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

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Adrien Vigneron, Professor Ian Head, Professor Nicolas Tsesmetzis



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Nature Publishing Group, 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Sulfite- 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- 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”. A 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.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Vigneron A, Cruaud P, Alsop E, deRezende JR, Head IM, Tsesmetzis N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: The ISME Journal

Year: 2018

Volume: 12

Issue: 8

Pages: 2096-2099

Print publication date: 01/08/2018

Online publication date: 28/05/2018

Acceptance date: 09/03/2018

Date deposited: 01/05/2018

ISSN (print): 1751-7362

ISSN (electronic): 1751-7370

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/s41396-018-0155-4


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Funder referenceFunder name
NE/J024325/1Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)