Green sulfur bacteria

phylum of bacteria

The green sulfur bacteria are a phylum of obligately anaerobic photoautotrophic bacteria. They metabolize (~eat) sulfur.

Green sulfur bacteria
Green sulfur bacteria in a Winogradsky column
Scientific classification

They are put in their own phylum. They are most closely related to the Bacteroidetes.

Most green sulfur bacteria are mesophilic. They prefer moderate temperatures, and all of them live in water. They are typical of the bacteria which evolved on the early Earth: they live in anaerobic conditions. They are usually found in the top millimeters of sediment, where there is reduced sulfur. They are capable of photosynthesis in low light conditions.

The Black Sea, an extremely anoxic environment, has a large population of green sulfur bacteria at about 100m depth. The light is poor in this region of the sea: here bacteria get most of their energy from chemical reactions. They need very little energy for cellular maintenance.[1]


  1. Marschall E, Jogler M, Hessge U, Overmann J (May 2010). "Large-scale distribution and activity patterns of an extremely low-light-adapted population of green sulfur bacteria in the Black Sea". Environmental Microbiology. 12 (5): 1348–62. doi:10.1111/j.1462-2920.2010.02178.x. PMID 20236170.