Applied and Environmental Microbiology
The importance of sulfate respiration in the microbial mat found in the low-sulfate thermal outflow of Mushroom Spring in Yellowstone National Park was evaluated using a combination of molecular, microelectrode, and radiotracer studies. Despite very low sulfate concentrations, this mat community was shown to sustain a highly active sulfur cycle. The highest rates of sulfate respiration were measured close to the surface of the mat late in the day when photosynthetic oxygen production ceased and were associated with a Thermodesuffiovibrio-like population. Reduced activity at greater depths was correlated with novel populations of sulfate-reducing microorganisms, unrelated to characterized species, and most likely due to both sulfate and carbon limitation.