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Appl Environ Microbiol. Jun 1996; 62(6): 2100–2105.
PMCID: PMC167988

Growth of the facultative anaerobe Shewanella putrefaciens by elemental sulfur reduction.


The growth of bacteria by dissimilatory elemental sulfur reduction is generally associated with obligate anaerobes and thermophiles in particular. Here we describe the sulfur-dependent growth of the facultatively anaerobic mesophile Shewanella putrefaciens. Six of nine representative S. putrefaciens isolates from a variety of environments proved able to grow by sulfur reduction, and strain MR-1 was chosen for further study. Growth was monitored in a minimal medium (usually with 0.05% Casamino Acids added as a growth stimulant) containing 30 mM lactate and limiting concentrations of elemental sulfur. When mechanisms were provided for the removal of the metabolic end product, H2S, measurable growth was obtained at sulfur concentrations of from 2 to 30 mM. Initial doubling times were ca. 1.5 h and substrate independent over the range of sulfur concentrations tested. In the cultures with the highest sulfur concentrations, cell numbers increased by greater than 400-fold after 48 h, reaching a maximum density of 6.8 x 10(8) cells ml-1. Yields were determined as total cell carbon and ranged from 1.7 to 5.9 g of C mol of S(0) consumed-1 in the presence of the amino acid supplement and from 0.9 to 3.4 g of C mol of S(0-1) in its absence. Several lines of evidence indicate that cell-to-sulfur contact is not required for growth. Approaches for the culture of sulfur-metabolizing bacteria and potential ecological implications of sulfur reduction in Shewanella-like heterotrophs are discussed.

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Selected References

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