Characterization of an autotrophic sulfide-oxidizing marine Arcobacter sp. that produces filamentous sulfur. Academic Article uri icon


  • A coastal marine sulfide-oxidizing autotrophic bacterium produces hydrophilic filamentous sulfur as a novel metabolic end product. Phylogenetic analysis placed the organism in the genus Arcobacter in the epsilon subdivision of the Proteobacteria. This motile vibrioid organism can be considered difficult to grow, preferring to grow under microaerophilic conditions in flowing systems in which a sulfide-oxygen gradient has been established. Purified cell cultures were maintained by using this approach. Essentially all 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole dihydrochloride-stained cells in a flowing reactor system hybridized with Arcobacter-specific probes as well as with a probe specific for the sequence obtained from reactor-grown cells. The proposed provisional name for the coastal isolate is "Candidatus Arcobacter sulfidicus." For cells cultured in a flowing reactor system, the sulfide optimum was higher than and the CO(2) fixation activity was as high as or higher than those reported for other sulfur oxidizers, such as Thiomicrospira spp. Cells associated with filamentous sulfur material demonstrated nitrogen fixation capability. No ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase could be detected on the basis of radioisotopic activity or by Western blotting techniques, suggesting an alternative pathway of CO(2) fixation. The process of microbial filamentous sulfur formation has been documented in a number of marine environments where both sulfide and oxygen are available. Filamentous sulfur formation by "Candidatus Arcobacter sulfidicus" or similar strains may be an ecologically important process, contributing significantly to primary production in such environments.

publication date

  • January 2002