• Open Access

Genome sequence of Desulfobacterium autotrophicum HRM2, a marine sulfate reducer oxidizing organic carbon completely to carbon dioxide


  • Present adresses: Landeskriminalamt Wiesbaden (LKA Wiesbaden), Hölderlinstr. 5, D-65187 Wiesbaden, Germany; Karolinska Institutet, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden; §QIAGEN GmbH, Qiagen Strasse 1, D-40724 Hilden, Germany; Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS), Department of Microbiology & Immunology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 20 Penn Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA; ††Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung, Abteilung Genomanalyse, Mascheroder Weg 1, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. ‡‡These authors contributed equally to the work.
    Re-use of this article is permitted in accordance with the Creative Commons Deed, Attribution 2.5, which does not permit commercial exploitation.

*E-mail astritt@gwdg.de; Tel. (+49) 8092 8289 972 Fax (+49) 8092 84 210

**E-mail rrabus@mpi-bremen.de; Tel. (+49) 798 3884; Fax (+49) 441 7983404.


Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) belonging to the metabolically versatile Desulfobacteriaceae are abundant in marine sediments and contribute to the global carbon cycle by complete oxidation of organic compounds. Desulfobacterium autotrophicum HRM2 is the first member of this ecophysiologically important group with a now available genome sequence. With 5.6 megabasepairs (Mbp) the genome of Db. autotrophicum HRM2 is about 2 Mbp larger than the sequenced genomes of other sulfate reducers (SRB). A high number of genome plasticity elements (> 100 transposon-related genes), several regions of GC discontinuity and a high number of repetitive elements (132 paralogous genes Mbp−1) point to a different genome evolution when comparing with Desulfovibrio spp. The metabolic versatility of Db. autotrophicum HRM2 is reflected in the presence of genes for the degradation of a variety of organic compounds including long-chain fatty acids and for the Wood–Ljungdahl pathway, which enables the organism to completely oxidize acetyl-CoA to CO2 but also to grow chemolithoautotrophically. The presence of more than 250 proteins of the sensory/regulatory protein families should enable Db. autotrophicum HRM2 to efficiently adapt to changing environmental conditions. Genes encoding periplasmic or cytoplasmic hydrogenases and formate dehydrogenases have been detected as well as genes for the transmembrane TpII-c3, Hme and Rnf complexes. Genes for subunits A, B, C and D as well as for the proposed novel subunits L and F of the heterodisulfide reductases are present. This enzyme is involved in energy conservation in methanoarchaea and it is speculated that it exhibits a similar function in the process of dissimilatory sulfate reduction in Db. autotrophicum HRM2.