Beyond the tip of the iceberg; a new view of the diversity of sulfite- and sulfate-reducing microorganisms

Adrien Vigneron, Perrine Cruaud, Eric Alsop, Júlia Rosa de Rezende, Ian M. Head*, Nicolas Tsesmetzis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)
59 Downloads (Pure)


Sulfite-reducing and sulfate-reducing microorganisms (SRM) play important roles in anoxic environments, linking the sulfur and carbon cycles. With climate warming, the distribution of anoxic habitats conductive to dissimilatory SRM is expanding. Consequently, we hypothesize that novel SRM are likely to emerge from the rare biosphere triggered by environmental changes. Using the dsrB gene as a molecular marker of sulfite-reducers and sulfate-reducers, we analyzed the diversity, community composition, and abundance of SRM in 200 samples representing 14 different ecosystems, including marine and freshwater environments, oil reservoirs, and engineered infrastructure. Up to 167,397 species-level OTUs affiliated with 47 different families were identified. Up to 96% of these can be considered as “rare biosphere SRM”. One third of the dsrB genes identified belonged to uncharacterized lineages. The dsrB sequences exhibited a strong pattern of selection in different ecosystems. These results expand our knowledge of the biodiversity and distribution of SRM, with implications for carbon and sulfur cycling in anoxic ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2096–2099
Number of pages4
JournalISME Journal
Issue number8
Early online date28 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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