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Domain: Bacteria

Phylum: Proteobacteria

Class: Deltaproteobacteria

Order: Syntrophobacterales

Family: Syntrophobacteraceae

Genus: Syntrophobacter

Species: S. fumaroxidans; S. pfennigii; S. sulfatireducens; S. wolinii


Syntrophobacter is an egg or rod shaped, gram-negative, non-spore-forming and non-motile bacterium approximately 1.0-1.3 x 1.8-2.2 micrometers. S. fulfatireducens grows between 20 and 48 degrees C and has a doubling time between 52 and 55 hours at 37C (5).

The first species named species of Syntrophobacter (S. wolinii) was discovered in 1980 by Boone and Bryant (1). Since then, three other species of Syntrophobacter have been described. All members of this genus anaerobically degrade propionate to acetate in the presence of methanogens.

While it was initially thought that Syntrophobacter requires coculture of at least one methanogen, at least two species (S. pfennigii and S. wolinii) have been grown in pure culture (2,3).

Syntrophobacter is often found in wastewater treatment facilities and is useful for further degrading organic compounds from propionate and lactate to acetate. It is generally found closely associated with methanogens which further process organic material from wastewater.

S. fumarodoxans degrades propionate via the methylmalonyl-CoA pathway when in co-culture with a methanogen. In pure culture, it utilizes sulfate or fumarate as an electron acceptor. In both cases the end products are acetate and carbon dioxide(4).

A genome sequence of S. fumarodoxans was obtained in 2012. It's genome is nearly 5Mbp long on a single circular genome. It has a 59.95% GC content (4).

SEM of S. fumaroxidans [1F]


1. Boone DR, Bryant MP. Propionate-Degrading Bacterium, Syntrophobacter wolinii sp. nov. gen. nov., from Methanogenic Ecosystems. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 1980;40(3):626-632.

2. Wallrabenstein C., Hauschild E., Schink B.. Syntrophobacter pfennigii sp. nov., new syntrophically propionate-oxidizing anaerobe growing in pure culture with propionate and sulfate. Archives of Microbiology. 1995;164(5):346-352.

3. Wallrabenstein, C., Hauschild, E. and Schink, B. (1994), Pure culture and cytological properties of Syntriphobacter wolini. FEMS Microbiology Letters, 123: 249–254

4. Plugge, C., Henstra, A., Worm, P., Swarts, D., Paultisch-Fuchs, A., Scholten, J., Lykidis, A., Lapidus, A., Goltsman, E., Kim, E., Mcdonald, E., Rohlin, L., Crable, B., Gunsalus, R., Stams, A., Mcinerney, M.. Complete genome sequence of Syntrophobacter fumaroxidans strain (MPOBT). Standards in Genomic Sciences, North America, 7, oct. 2012

5. Chen, S., Liu, X., and Dong, X.. Syntrophobacter sulfatireducens sp. nov., a novel syntrophic, propionate-oxidizing bacterium isolated from UASB reactors. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. 2005;55(3):1319-1324


Page authored by Troy Mellen, student of Prof. Katherine Mcmahon at University of Wisconsin - Madison.