Actinobacteria phylogenomics, selective isolation from an iron oligotrophic environment and siderophore functional characterization, unveil new desferrioxamine traits

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Desferrioxamines are hydroxamate siderophores widely conserved in both aquatic and soil-dwelling Actinobacteria. While the genetic and enzymatic bases of siderophore biosynthesis and their transport in model families of this phylum are well understood, evolutionary studies are lacking. Here, we perform a comprehensive desferrioxamine-centric (des genes) phylogenomic analysis, which includes the genomes of six novel strains isolated from an iron and phosphorous depleted oasis in the Chihuahuan desert of Mexico. Our analyses reveal previously unnoticed desferrioxamine evolutionary patterns, involving both biosynthetic and transport genes, likely to be related to desferrioxamines chemical diversity. The identified patterns were used to postulate experimentally testable hypotheses after phenotypic characterization, including profiling of siderophores production and growth stimulation of co-cultures under iron deficiency. Based in our results, we propose a novel des gene, which we term desG, as responsible for incorporation of phenylacetyl moieties during biosynthesis of previously reported arylated desferrioxamines. Moreover, a genomic-based classification of the siderophore-binding proteins responsible for specific and generalist siderophore assimilation is postulated. This report provides a much-needed evolutionary framework, with specific insights supported by experimental data, to direct the future ecological and functional analysis of desferrioxamines in the environment.

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