Sulfate-reducing microorganisms (SRM) are key players in global sulfur and carbon cycles, especially in anoxic marine sediments. They are critical in anaerobic food webs because they consume fermentation products like volatile fatty acids (VFAs) and/or hydrogen produced from other microbes that degrade organic matter. Apart from this, the interplay between SRM and other coexisting microorganisms is poorly understood. A recent study by Liang et al. provides intriguing new insights about how the activity of SRM influence microbial communities. Using an elegant combination of microcosm experiments, community ecology, genomics, and in vitro studies, they provide evidence that SRM are central in ecological networks and community assembly, and interestingly, that the control of pH by SRM activity has a substantial impact on other key bacteria, like members of the Marinilabiliales (Bacteroidota). This work has important implications for understanding how marine sediment microbes function together to provide important ecosystem services like recycling organic matter.
- marine sediments
- ecological networks