Transformation of Sulfur Species by Phototrophic and Chemotrophic Microbes

  • J. Bauld
Part of the Dahlem Workshop Reports book series (DAHLEM, volume 33)


Transformations between the various oxidation states of sulfur occurring within the biosphere are dominantly microbially mediated. Species transformations may occur during the biosynthesis of cell biomass (e.g., the assimilatory reduction of sulfate) or its subsequent decomposition. Dissimilatory processes may be oxidative or reductive in character. The former commonly provide a source of electrons for energy-generating metabolism and/or a source of reducing power for autotrophic CO2 fixation. The latter employs oxidized S species as terminal electron acceptors for anaerobic respirations. In contrast to the diversity of microbes which selectively assimilate species, dissimilatory processes are mediated by distinct and specialized physiological groups having widely differing responses to parameters such as oxygen, light, and sulfide. These restrictions effectively partition certain sulfur species transformations into separate, though often adjacent, habitats. Some species transformations can only proceed at the interface between mutually exclusive habitats. Under anoxic conditions dissimilatory sulfur species transformations are exclusively microbial.

Recent investigations have been marked by an increasing awareness of the quantitative importance of certain organic S species in aquatic sediments and the wide variation of spatial and temporal scales across oxicanoxic interfaces. The ability of microbially mediated oxidations to compete with abiotic reactions under oxic conditions appears to be variable and habitat-dependent. Under anoxic conditions iron may act as a significant, though possibly transitory, sink for sulfide produced during dissimilatory sulfate reduction.


Phytoplankton Cysteine Assimilation Photosynthesis Disulfide 


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Copyright information

© Dr. S. Bernhard, Dahlem Konferenzen 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Bauld
    • 1
  1. 1.Baas Becking Geobiological LaboratoryCanberra CityAustralia

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