Variochelins, lipopeptide siderophores from Variovorax boronicumulans discovered by genome mining.
Photoreactive siderophores have a major impact on the growth of planktonic organisms. To date, these molecules have mainly been reported from marine bacteria, although evidence is now accumulating that some terrestrial bacteria also harbor the biosynthetic potential for their production. In this paper, we describe the genomics-driven discovery and characterization of variochelins, lipopeptide siderophores from the bacterium Variovorax boronicumulans, which thrives in soil and freshwater habitats. Variochelins are different from most other lipopeptide siderophores in that their biosynthesis involves a polyketide synthase. We demonstrate that the ferric iron complex of variochelin A possesses photoreactive properties and present the MS-derived structures of two degradation products that emerge upon light exposure.