The effect of temperature on sulfur and oxygen isotope fractionation by sulfate reducing bacteria (Desulfococcus multivorans)

André Pellerin, Gilad Antler, Angeliki Marietou, Alexandra V. Turchyn, Bo Barker Jørgensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Temperature influences microbiological growth and catabolic rates. Between 15 and 35 °C the growth rate and cell specific sulfate reduction rate of the sulfate reducing bacterium Desulfococcus multivorans increased with temperature. Sulfur isotope fractionation during sulfate reduction decreased with increasing temperature from 27.2 ‰ at 15 °C to 18.8 ‰ at 35 °C which is consistent with a decreasing reversibility of the metabolic pathway as the catabolic rate increases. Oxygen isotope fractionation, in contrast, decreased between 15 and 25 °C and then increased again between 25 and 35 °C, suggesting increasing reversibility in the first steps of the sulfate reducing pathway at higher temperatures. This points to a decoupling in the reversibility of sulfate reduction between the steps from the uptake of sulfate into the cell to the formation of sulfite, relative to the whole pathway from sulfate to sulfide. This observation is consistent with observations of increasing sulfur isotope fractionation when sulfate reducing bacteria are living near their upper temperature limit. The oxygen isotope decoupling may be a first signal of changing physiology as the bacteria cope with higher temperatures.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberfnaa061
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - 29 Apr 2020


  • equilibrium
  • isotope
  • oxygen isotope
  • sulfate reduction
  • sulfur isotope
  • temperature; sulfate reducing pathway

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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