Desulfovibrio desulfuricans

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Higher order taxa

Domain Bacteria; Phylum Proteobacteria; Class Deltaproteobacteria; Order Desulfovibrionales; Family Desulfovibrionaceae; Genus Desulfovibrio (Madigan et al., 2012).


Desulfovibrio desulfuricans (also known as strain ND 132)

Description and significance

16S Ribosomal RNA Gene Information

Genome Structure (if the genome exists)

Cell structure and metabolism

Ecology and Pathogenesis

Sulfate reducers thrive in marine systems, owing to the high concentration of sulfate ions in seawater. They can be found in various environments such as oil field production waters, acid mine drainage waters, sewage, and soil. However the genetic structures of the sulfate-reducing bacteria differ in different environments (Verstreken et. al., 2012). This proves that Desulfovibrio desulfuricans has an excellent ability to adapt to its surroundings while maintaining an optimal cell structure for nutrient uptake and allows for the anaerobic production of methylmercury. D. desulfuricans are not known to be pathogenic, however an infection of this microbe into the human body can prove to be detrimental to one’s health. We see an example of this in the case of a 69 year old woman who had been hospitalized with complaints of stomach irritation, irregular bowel movements, diarrhea, and fever. The final diagnoses being D. desulfuricans bacteremia occurring in an immunocompromised host with CMV colitis (Voorduow et. al., 1995). Doctors then incubated the strain revealing a resistance to piperacillin-tazobactam. Desulfovibrio desulfuricans culture under anoxic conditions is more likely to form colonies in free living cells than particle associated environments (Voorduow et. al., 1995).

Current Research

Desulfovibro desulfuricans strain ND132 presents an excellent opportunity for the study of mercury methylation because while being a typical anaerobic mesophilic bacterium with wide tolerance of pH and salinity, it also grows well with fumurate as electron acceptor, which prevents sulfide inhibition of mercury methylation (Gilmour et al., 2011). Its genome sequencing allows comparative transcriptomic and proteomic study against other Desulfovibrio species (Gilmour, et al., 2011) Additional research includes the effects of large colony blooms in seawater and effects of infections in the human body by D. desulfuricans. One of the main research proposals currently being performed on D.desulfuricans is the study of how methylmercury production occurs with this organism’s cellular respiration. D.desulfuricans is the only organism in which pathways of its methylation have been somewhat defined (Gilmour et. al., 2011). This team of scientists used enriched stable mercury isotopes to show that ND132 simultaneously produces and degrades methylmercury (MeHg) during growth but does not produce elemental Hg. A large colony of strain ND132 may cause harm to someone who comes in contact with the colony as methylmercury is known to cause brain and nervous system damage. There is still much research that can be done on this organism which may prove beneficial to human society as we learn about new ways to prevent corrosion caused by ND132, or as we may be able to utilize their respiration in some wastewater treatment plants.


Brown, S. D., Gilmour, C. C., Kucken, A. M., Wall, J. D., Elias, D. A., Brandt, C. C., … Palumbo, A. V. (2011). Genome Sequence of the Mercury-Methylating Strain Desulfovibrio desulfuricans ND132. J. Bacteriol, 193(8): 2078-2079.

Compeau, G. C., & Bartha, R. (1985). Sulfate-reducing bacteria: principal methylators of mercury in anoxic estuarine sediment. Applied and environmental microbiology, 50(2), 498-502.

Desulfovibrio desulfuricans ND132. (n.d.). Retrieved October 02, 2016, from

Desulfovibrio desulfuricans G20. (n.d.). Retrieved October 03, 2016, from

Gilmour, C., Elias, D., Kucken, A., Brown, S., Palumbo, A., Schadt, C., & Wall, J. (2011, June). Sulfate-Reducing Bacterium Desulfovibrio desulfuricans ND132 as a Model for Understanding Bacterial Mercury Methylation. Applied and environmental microbiology, 77(12). doi:10.1128/AEM.02993-10.

Jay, J., Murray, K., Gilmour, C., Mason, R., Morel, F., Roberts, A., & Hemond, H. (2016, October). Mercury Methylation by Desulfovibrio desulfuricans ND132 in the Presence of Polysulfides. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 82(20). Doi:10.1128/AEM.68.11.5741-5745.2002.

Madigan, M. T., Martinko, J. M., Stahl, D. A., & Clark, D. P. (2012). Brock biology of microorganisms. Boston [etc.: B. Cummings Mardis E. R. 2008. Next-generation DNA sequencing methods. Annu. Rev. Genomics Hum. Genet. 9:387–402.

Podar, M., Gilmour, C. C., Brandt, C. C., Soren, A., Brown, S. D., Crable, B. R., . . . Elias, D. A. (2015). Global prevalence and distribution of genes and microorganisms involved in mercury methylation.

Rani, A., Rockne, K. J., Drummond, J., Al-Hinai, M., & Ranjan, R. (2015, August 14). Geochemical influences and mercury methylation of a dental wastewater microbiome [Abstract]. Scientific Reports, 5(12872). doi:10.1038/srep12872

Steger, J., Vincent, C., Ballard, J., Krumholtz, L. (2016, October). Desulfovibrio sp. Genes involved in the Respiration of Sulfate during Metabolism of Hydrogen and Lactate. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 82(20). Doi: 10.1128/AEM.68.4.1932-1937.2002. Voordouw, G. (1995, August). The Genus Desulfovibrio: The Centennial. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 61(8). Pg 2813-2819. Retrieved from: Verstreken, I., Lalemanb, W., Wauters, G., & Verhaegen, J. (2012). Desulfovibrio desulfuricans bacteremia in an immunocompromized host with a liver graft abd ulcerative colitis. American Society for Microbiology. 54(11). doi:10.1128/JCM.00987-11.


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