Anammox bacteria belong to the phylum Planctomycetes and perform anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox); they oxidize ammonium with nitrite as the electron acceptor to yield dinitrogen gas. The anammox reaction takes place inside the anammoxosome: an intracytoplasmic compartment bounded by a single ladderane lipid-containing membrane. The anammox bacteria, first found in a wastewater treatment plant in The Netherlands, have the potential to remove ammonium from wastewater without the addition of organic carbon. Very recently anammox bacteria were also discovered in the Black Sea where they are responsible for 30–50% of the nitrogen consumption.
This review will introduce different forms of intracytoplasmic membrane systems found in prokaryotes and discuss the compartmentalization in anammox bacteria and its possible functional relation to catabolism and energy transduction.