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Chapter 12 : Bacteria Spin the Sulfur Cycle

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Bacteria Spin the Sulfur Cycle, Page 1 of 2

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Abstract:

When plants and animals die, organic sulfur compounds are decomposed by bacteria with the release of hydrogen sulfide (H2S), an inorganic form of sulfur with an obnoxious smell. Sulfur occurs on the Earth in several other inorganic forms, all of which are constantly being interconverted on a massive scale. Bacteria are active agents in most of these processes, and it is not an exaggeration to say that bacteria "spin" the sulfur cycle. This chapter considers a simplified version of the sulfur cycle, paying particular attention to the three inorganic forms: sulfide, elemental sulfur (S), and sulfate (SO4). In the skeleton cycle shown in the chapter, sulfide is represented as the compound hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and sulfate is in the form of sulfuric acid (H2SO4). One prominent species of bacteria almost always at work in this part of the sulfur cycle is Desulfovibrio vulgaris. This bacterium has numerous “cousins” in genera with similar sounding names: for example, Desulfobulbus and Desulfobacter. Depending on the circumstances, two kinds of bacteria are concerned with reformation of sulfate. Under anaerobic conditions, the transformation of H2S to sulfur and sulfate is accomplished by photosynthetic bacteria, pigmented organisms (containing chlorophyll) that use light energy to replenish their ATP supplies. Other kinds of bacteria involved in recycling sulfur are aerobic, with the genus Thiobacillus being particularly noteworthy. The production of sulfuric acid from sulfide by thiobacilli can, however, have deleterious consequences.

Citation: Gest H. 2003. Bacteria Spin the Sulfur Cycle, p 72-74. In Microbes. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817855.ch12
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Citation: Gest H. 2003. Bacteria Spin the Sulfur Cycle, p 72-74. In Microbes. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817855.ch12
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