Gramibactin is an iron-binding molecule of the siderophore family. It occurs naturally in certain plant-associated bacteria where it helps secure the iron supply of both the microorganisms and their host plants. It captures iron(III) from the environment through N nitroso-hydroxylamine groups that have not been observed in any other natural iron transporter so far. This unique binding motif not only fixes iron with high affinity but also serves as a nitric oxide (NO) donor.
These findings may contribute to improving plant growth and crop yield in a natural way. In plants, iron is essential for chlorophyll production, and NO is involved in several regulatory processes. Gramibactin was discovered by Christian Hertweck and his team at the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology – Hans Knöll Institute (HKI).
Due to the strong potential it holds for cereal production, it was named ‘Leibniz Compound of the Year’. The compound is available for licencing or co-development through Ascenion, the HKI’s technology transfer partner.