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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 483 - Feature article
In heme b, the central iron atom (orange) is bound to four nitrogen atoms (blue) of a tetrapyrrole ring composed of carbon (grey), hydrogen (white) and oxygen (red) atoms. Image: M. Gledhill and T. Bibby.

Honey DJ, Gledhill M, Bibby TS, Legiret FE, Pratt NJ, Hickman AE, Lawson T, Achterberg EP


Heme b in marine phytoplankton and particulate material from the North Atlantic Ocean


Heme b is a prosthetic group of hemoproteins which contains iron and nitrogen and facilitates electron transport in respiration, photosynthesis and eukaryotic nitrate reduction. Phytoplankton organisms have an absolute requirement for heme b, which suggests that this compound is a key link between iron or nitrate abundance and productivity in the ocean. Honey and co-workers show that heme b concentrations decrease in phytoplankton and field samples when iron and nitrate concentrations are low. Heme b in marine phytoplankton is thus tightly controlled by nutrient distributions, with consequent implications for intracellular electron transport.


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