, Volume 146, Issue 1, pp 52-56

Production of elemental sulfur by green and purple sulfur bacteria

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Abstract

The utilization of sulfide by phototrophic sulfur bacteria temporarily results in the accumulation of elemental sulfur. In the green sulfur bacteria (Chlorobiaceae), the sulfur is deposited outside the cells, whereas in the purple sulfur bacteria (Chromatiaceae) sulfur is found intracellularly. Consequently, in the latter case, sulfur is unattainable for other individuals. Attempts were made to analyze the impact of the formation of extracellular elemental sulfur compared to the deposition of intracellular sulfur.

According to the theory of the continuous cultivation of microorganisms, the steady-state concentration of the limiting substrate is unaffected by the reservoir concentration (S R).

It was observed in sulfide-limited continuous cultures ofChlorobium limicola f.thiosulfatophilum that higherS R values not only resulted in higher steady-state population densities, but also in increased steady-state concentrations of elemental sulfur. Similar phenomena were observed in sulfide-limited cultures ofChromatium vinosum.

It was concluded that the elemental sulfur produced byChlorobium, althouth being deposited extracellularly, is not easily available for other individuals, and apparently remains (in part) attached to the cells. The ecological significance of the data is discussed.