Ecological consequences of the phylogenetic and physiological diversities of acetogens

Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. 2002 Aug;81(1-4):203-13. doi: 10.1023/a:1020514617738.


Acetogens reduce CO2 to acetate via the acetyl-CoA pathway and have been classically thought of as obligately anaerobic bacteria. Nearly 100 acetogenic species from 20 different genera have been isolated to date. These isolates are able to use very diverse electron donors and acceptors, and it is thus very likely that the in situ activities of acetogens are very diverse and not restricted to acetogenesis. Since acetogens constitute a very phylogenetically diverse bacteriological group, it should be anticipated that they can inhabit, and have impact on, diverse habitats. Indeed, they have been isolated from a broad range of habitats, including oxic soils and other habitats not generally regarded as suitable for acetogens. Although the ecological impact of acetogens is determined by the in situ manifestation of their physiological potentials, assessing their in situ activities is difficult due to their physiological and phylogenetic diversities. This mini-review will highlight a few of the physiological and ecological realities of acetogens, and will focus on: (i) metabolic diversities and regulation, (ii) phylogenetic diversity and molecular ecology, and (iii) the capacity of acetogens to cope with oxic conditions under both laboratory and in situ conditions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetic Acid / metabolism*
  • Acetyl Coenzyme A / metabolism
  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Ecosystem*
  • Phylogeny*


  • Acetyl Coenzyme A
  • Acetic Acid