Bacterial Sulfate Reduction Above 100°C in Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vent Sediments

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Science  11 Dec 1992:
Vol. 258, Issue 5089, pp. 1756-1757
DOI: 10.1126/science.258.5089.1756


The currently known upper temperature limit for growth of organisms, shared by a number of archaebacteria, is 110°C. However, among the sulfate-reducing bacteria, growth temperatures of greater than 100°C have not been found. A search for high-temperature activity of sulfate-reducing bacteria was done in hot deep-sea sediments at the hydrothermal vents of the Guaymas Basin tectonic spreading center in the Gulf of California. Radiotracer studies revealed that sulfate reduction can occur at temperatures up to 110°C, with an optimum rate at 103° to 106°C. This observation expands the upper temperature limit of this process in deep-ocean sediments by 20°C and indicates the existence of an unknown group of hyperthermophilic bacteria with a potential importance for the biogeochemistry of sulfur above 100°C.

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