Encyclopedia of Geobiology

2011 Edition
| Editors: Joachim Reitner, Volker Thiel

Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria

  • Heribert Cypionka
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9212-1_197


Dissimilatory sulfate reducers; Sulfate-reducing prokaryotes


Sulfate reducers are prokaryotic microorganisms (Archaea or Bacteria) that use sulfate as electron acceptor of an anaerobic respiration process.


Sulfur is one of the essential elements for life. It makes about 1% of the dry mass of living organisms and is present in two amino acids, iron sulfur clusters, and some coenzymes. Several organisms can use sulfate as sulfur source and carry out assimilatory sulfate reduction, which yields sulfide groups of amino acids. In contrast, dissimilatory sulfate reducers release large amounts of hydrogen sulfide (H2S and HS) as product of their energy metabolism and cause the characteristic smell of rotten eggs. The process is carried out by a heterogeneous group of bacteria and archaea that occur in anoxic environments with temperatures up to 105°C (Widdel, 1988; Castro et al., 2000). Due to the high sulfate concentration of seawater (28 mM), sulfate...

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heribert Cypionka
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OldenburgOldenburgGermany