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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1998 Jan;64(1):119-25.

Elemental sulfur and thiosulfate disproportionation by Desulfocapsa sulfoexigens sp. nov., a new anaerobic bacterium isolated from marine surface sediment.

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Department of Microbial Ecology, University of Aarhus, Denmark.


A mesophilic, anaerobic, gram-negative bacterium, strain SB164P1, was enriched and isolated from oxidized marine surface sediment with elemental sulfur as the sole energy substrate in the presence of ferrihydrite. Elemental sulfur was disproportionated to hydrogen sulfide and sulfate. Growth was observed exclusively in the presence of a hydrogen sulfide scavenger, e.g., ferrihydrite. In the absence of a scavenger, sulfide and sulfate production were observed but no growth occurred. Strain SB164P1 grew also by disproportionation of thiosulfate and sulfite. With thiosulfate, the growth efficiency was higher in ferrihydrite-supplemented media than in media without ferrihydrite. Growth coupled to sulfate reduction was not observed. However, a slight sulfide production occurred in cultures incubated with formate and sulfate. Strain SB164P1 is the first bacterium described that grows chemolithoautotrophically exclusively by the disproportionation of inorganic sulfur compounds. Comparative 16S rDNA sequencing analysis placed strain SB164P1 into the delta subclass of the class Proteobacteria. Its closest relative is Desulfocapsa thiozymogenes, and slightly more distantly related are Desulfofustis glycolicus and Desulforhopalus vacuolatus. This phylogenetic cluster of organisms, together with members of the genus Desulfobulbus, forms one of the main lines of descent within the delta subclass of the Proteobacteria. Due to the common phenotypic characteristics and the phylogenetic relatedness to Desulfocapsa thiozymogenes, we propose that strain SB164P1 be designated the type strain of Desulfocapsa sulfoexigens sp. nov.

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