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Annu Rev Microbiol. 2010;64:561-83. doi: 10.1146/annurev.micro.112408.134208.

Iron-oxidizing bacteria: an environmental and genomic perspective.

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Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, West Boothbay Harbor, Maine 04575, USA.


In the 1830s, iron bacteria were among the first groups of microbes to be recognized for carrying out a fundamental geological process, namely the oxidation of iron. Due to lingering questions about their metabolism, coupled with difficulties in culturing important community members, studies of Fe-oxidizing bacteria (FeOB) have lagged behind those of other important microbial lithotrophic metabolisms. Recently, research on lithotrophic, oxygen-dependent FeOB that grow at circumneutral pH has accelerated. This work is driven by several factors including the recognition by both microbiologists and geoscientists of the role FeOB play in the biogeochemistry of iron and other elements. The isolation of new strains of obligate FeOB allowed a better understanding of their physiology and phylogeny and the realization that FeOB are abundant at certain deep-sea hydrothermal vents. These ancient microorganisms offer new opportunities to learn about fundamental biological processes that can be of practical importance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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