Communities of green sulfur bacteria were studied in selected marine and saline habitats on the basis of gene sequences of 16S rRNA and the Fenna- Matthews-Olson (FMO) protein. The availability of group-specific primers for both 16S rDNA and the fmoA gene, which is unique to green sulfur bacteria, has, for the first time, made it possible to analyze environmental communities of these bacteria by culture-independent methods using two independent genetic markers. Sequence results obtained with fmoA genes and with 16S rDNA were largely congruent to each other. All of the 16S rDNA and fmoA sequences from habitats of the Baltic Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, Sippewissett Salt Marsh (Massachusetts, USA), and Bad Water (Death Valley, California, USA) were found within salt-dependent phylogenetic lines of green sulfur bacteria established by pure culture studies. This strongly supports the existence of phylogenetic lineages of green sulfur bacteria specifically adapted to marine and saline environments and the exclusive occurrence of these bacteria in marine and saline habitats. The great majority of clone sequences belonged to different clusters of the Prosthecochloris genus and probably represent different species. Evidence for the occurrence of two new species of Prosthecochloris was also obtained. Different habitats were dominated by representatives from the Prosthecochloris group and different clusters or species of this genus were found either exclusively or as the clearly dominant green sulfur bacterium at different habitats.