Sulfide oxidation under chemolithoautotrophic denitrifying conditions

Ricardo Beristain Cardoso, Reyes Sierra-Alvarez, Pieter Rowlette, Elias Razo Flores, Jorge Gómez, Jim A. Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

304 Scopus citations


Chemolithoautotrophic denitrifying microorganisms oxidize reduced inorganic sulfur compounds coupled to the reduction of nitrate as an electron acceptor. These denitrifiers can be applied to the removal of nitrogen and/or sulfur contamination from wastewater, groundwater, and gaseous streams. This study investigated the physiology and kinetics of chemolithotrophic denitrification by an enrichment culture utilizing hydrogen sulfide, elemental sulfur, orthiosulfate as electron donor. Complete oxidation of sulfide to sulfate was observed when nitrate was supplemented at concentrations equal or exceeding the stoichiometric requirement. In contrast, sulfide was only partially oxidized to elemental sulfur when nitrate concentrations were limiting. Sulfide was found to inhibit chemolithotrophic sulfoxidation, decreasing rates by approximately 21-fold when the sulfide concentration increased from 2.5 to 10.0 mM, respectively. Addition of low levels of acetate (0.5 mM) enhanced denitrification and sulfate formation, suggesting that acetate was utilized as a carbon source by chemolithotrophic denitrifiers. The results of this study indicate the potential of chemolithotrophic denitrification for the removal of hydrogen sulfide. The sulfide/nitrate ratio can be used to control the fate of sulfide oxidation to either elemental sulfur or sulfate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1148-1157
Number of pages10
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 20 2006


  • Anoxic sulfide oxidation
  • Denitrification
  • Elemental sulfur
  • Sulfate
  • Sulfide inhibition
  • Thiosulfate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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