Encyclopedia of Geobiology

2011 Edition
| Editors: Joachim Reitner, Volker Thiel


  • Kirsten Küsel
  • Harold L. Drake
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9212-1_2




Acetogens are defined as anaerobic prokaryotes that use the acetyl-CoA pathway for the (a) reductive synthesis of the acetyl moiety of acetyl-CoA from CO2, (b) conservation of energy, and (c) assimilation of CO2 into biomass.


Acetogens utilize the acetyl-CoA “Wood–Ljungdahl” pathway as a terminal electron-accepting, energy-conserving, CO2-fixing process. The reductive synthesis of acetate from CO2 differentiates acetogens from organisms that synthesize acetate by other metabolic processes. Although the production of acetate as a sole reduced end product is the classic hallmark of acetogens, the production of acetate is not a part of the definition, because the acetogen might not form acetate in situ or when cultured in the laboratory.

The first acetogen, Clostridium aceticum, was isolated from soil by the Dutch microbiologist K. T. Wieringa in 1936. This spore-forming, mesophilic bacterium was shown to grow at the expense of H 2–CO 2and...


Anammox Bacterium Terminal Electron Acceptor Methanosarcina Acetivorans Reductive Synthesis Reductive Tricarboxylic Acid 
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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kirsten Küsel
    • 1
  • Harold L. Drake
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of EcologyFriedrich Schiller University JenaJenaGermany
  2. 2.Department of Ecological MicrobiologyUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany