Pivotal Role of Iron in the Regulation of Cyanobacterial Electron Transport

Adv Microb Physiol. 2016;68:169-217. doi: 10.1016/bs.ampbs.2016.02.005. Epub 2016 Mar 15.


Iron-containing metalloproteins are the main cornerstones for efficient electron transport in biological systems. The abundance and diversity of iron-dependent proteins in cyanobacteria makes those organisms highly dependent of this micronutrient. To cope with iron imbalance, cyanobacteria have developed a survey of adaptation strategies that are strongly related to the regulation of photosynthesis, nitrogen metabolism and other central electron transfer pathways. Furthermore, either in its ferrous form or as a component of the haem group, iron plays a crucial role as regulatory signalling molecule that directly or indirectly modulates the composition and efficiency of cyanobacterial redox reactions. We present here the major mechanism used by cyanobacteria to couple iron homeostasis to the regulation of electron transport, making special emphasis in processes specific in those organisms.

Keywords: Cyanobacteria; Electron transport; Iron homeostasis; Iron-dependent regulation; Redox signalling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cyanobacteria / metabolism*
  • Electron Transport / genetics
  • Electron Transport / physiology
  • Electron Transport Chain Complex Proteins / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Iron Deficiencies*
  • Microcystins / biosynthesis
  • Nitrogen / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Photosynthesis / physiology*


  • Electron Transport Chain Complex Proteins
  • Microcystins
  • microcystin
  • Iron
  • Nitrogen