New publication in mBio: Rare but mighty


Sulfate-reducing microbes control the production of the greenhouse gas methane in wetlands by competing effectively with methanogenic archaea. A research team with Bela Hausmann, Alexander Loy (DOME), and Michael Pester (DSMZ Braunschweig) has now discovered a new sulfate-reducing bacterium in wetlands, Candidatus Desulfosporosinus infrequens, which is present at low abundance in wetlands world-wide. Surprisingly, this organism can be highly active while remaining at low-abundance. In order to cope with the acidic conditions in wetlands, Candidatus Desulfosporosinus infrequens likely invests the generated energy solely in cellular maintenance but not in cell divison and growth. This discovery changes our view on the ecological roles and cellular mechanisms of members of the rare biosphere that has been largely perceived as a microbial seed bank of dormant and inactive cells.