PerspectiveMICROBIAL ECOLOGY

How to Avoid Oxygen

Science  08 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5438, pp. 249
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5438.249

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Summary

Obligate anaerobic organisms, which function without oxygen as the ultimate acceptor for the respiratory chain, must avoid exposure to oxygen and its potentially harmful reactive species. As Lloyd explains in his Perspective, Jenney et al. report in this issue that an anaerobic archaean inhabitant of deep-sea vents has solved this problem by eliminating the superoxide radical with an enzyme, superoxide reductase, that does not produce oxygen as one of its products. This enzyme is likely used by most anaerobes in their deoxygenated environments.

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