Denitrifying Genes in Bacterial and Archaeal Genomes

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2002 Sep 27;1577(3):355-76. doi: 10.1016/s0167-4781(02)00420-7.


Denitrification, the reduction of nitrate or nitrite to nitrous oxide or dinitrogen, is the major mechanism by which fixed nitrogen returns to the atmosphere from soil and water. Although the denitrifying ability has been found in microorganisms belonging to numerous groups of bacteria and Archaea, the genes encoding the denitrifying reductases have been studied in only few species. Recent investigations have led to the identification of new classes of denitrifying reductases, indicating a more complex genetic basis of this process than previously recognized. The increasing number of genome sequencing projects has opened a new way to study the genetics of the denitrifying process in bacteria and Archaea. In this review, we summarized the current knowledge on denitrifying genes and compared their genetic organizations by using new sequences resulting from the analysis of finished and unfinished microbial genomes with a special attention paid to the clustering of genes encoding different classes of reductases. In addition, some evolutionary relationships between the structural genes are presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Genes, Archaeal*
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family
  • Nitrate Reductase
  • Nitrate Reductases / genetics*
  • Nitrate Reductases / metabolism
  • Nitrite Reductases / genetics*
  • Nitrite Reductases / metabolism
  • Oxidoreductases / genetics*
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Phylogeny


  • Oxidoreductases
  • Nitrate Reductases
  • Nitrite Reductases
  • nitrous oxide reductase
  • nitric-oxide reductase
  • Nitrate Reductase

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AE004969