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Anaeromyxobacter dehalogenans fills new ecological niche in soil microbiology

A team led by Governor’s Chair Professor Frank Löffler discovered a new ecological strategy to convert nitrate to nitrogen gas (Onley et al.). Work with the soil bacterium Anaeromyxobacter dehalogenans revealed that denitrification occurs independent of nitric oxide-forming nitrite reductases. Instead, the bacterium is a chemodenitrifier and utilizes combined biotic-abiotic reactions to accomplish denitrification. Chemodenitrifiers are common members of soil microbiomes and this process may have substantial contributions to predicting nitrogen loss from soil and assisting in more efficient use of fertilizers for global feed, food, and biofuel crops.