Iron and manganese in anaerobic respiration: environmental significance, physiology, and regulation

Annu Rev Microbiol. 1994;48:311-43. doi: 10.1146/annurev.mi.48.100194.001523.


Dissimilatory iron and/or manganese reduction is known to occur in several organisms, including anaerobic sulfur-reducing organisms such as Geobacter metallireducens or Desulfuromonas acetoxidans, and facultative aerobes such as Shewanella putrefaciens. These bacteria couple both carbon oxidation and growth to the reduction of these metals, and inhibitor and competition experiments suggest that Mn(IV) and Fe(III) are efficient electron acceptors similar to nitrate in redox abilities and capable of out-competing electron acceptors of lower potential, such as sulfate (sulfate reduction) or CO2 (methanogenesis). Field studies of iron and/or manganese reduction suggest that organisms with such metabolic abilities play important roles in coupling the oxidation of organic carbon to metal reduction under anaerobic conditions. Because both iron and manganese oxides are solids or colloids, they tend to settle downward in aquatic environments, providing a physical mechanism for the movement of oxidizing potential into anoxic zones. The resulting biogeochemical metal cycles have a strong impact on many other elements including carbon, sulfur, phosphorous, and trace metals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / metabolism*
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Manganese / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction


  • Manganese
  • Iron