Marine oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) are expanding regions of intense nitrogen cycling. Up to half of the nitrogen available for marine organisms is removed from the ocean in these regions. Metagenomic studies have identified an abundant group of sulfur-oxidizing bacteria (SUP05) with the genetic potential for nitrogen cycling and loss in OMZs. However, SUP05 have defied cultivation and their physiology remains untested. We cultured, sequenced and tested the physiology of an isolate from the SUP05 clade. We describe a facultatively anaerobic sulfur-oxidizing chemolithoautotroph that produces nitrite and consumes ammonium under anaerobic conditions. Genetic evidence that closely related strains are abundant at nitrite maxima in OMZs suggests that sulfur-oxidizing chemoautotrophs from the SUP05 clade are a potential source of nitrite, fueling competing nitrogen removal processes in the ocean.
Journal: The ISME journal