Fully understanding the metabolism of SRB provides fundamental guidelines for allowing the microorganisms to provide more beneficial services in water treatment and resource recovery. The electron-transfer pathway of sulfate respiration by Desulfovibrio vulgaris is well studied, but still partly unresolved. Here we provide deeper insight by comprehensively monitoring metabolite changes during D. vulgaris metabolism with two electron donors, lactate and pyruvate, in presence or absence of citrate-chelated soluble FeIII as an additional competing electron acceptor. H2 was produced from lactate oxidation to pyruvate, but pyruvate oxidation produced mostly formate. Accumulation of lactate-originated H2 during lag phases inhibited pyruvate transformation to acetate. Sulfate reduction was initiated by lactate-originated H2, but MQ-mediated e flow initiated sulfate reduction without delay when pyruvate was the donor. When H2-induced electron flow gave priority to FeIII reduction over sulfate reduction, the long lag phase before sulfate reduction shortened the time for iron-sulfide crystallite growth and led to smaller mackinawite (Fe1+xS) nanocrystallites. Synthesizing all the results, we propose that electron flow from lactate or pyruvate towards SO42− reduction to H2S are through at least three routes that are regulated by the e donor (lactate or pyruvate) and the presence or absence of another e acceptor (FeIII here). These routes are not competing, but complementary: e.g., H2 or formate production and oxidation were necessary for sulfite and disulfide/trisulfide reduction to sulfide. Our study suggests that the e donor provides a practical tool to regulate and optimize SRB-predominant bioremediation systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-101
Number of pages11
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - 2017


  • Crystallization
  • D. vulgaris
  • Iron-sulfide
  • SO reduction
  • Soluble Fe reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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