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Any of a diverse group of bacteria that are capable of metabolizing sulfur and its compounds and are important in the sulfur cycle. Members of the genus Thiobacillus, widespread in marine and terrestrial habitats, react with sulfur to produce sulfates useful to plants; in deep ground deposits they generate sulfuric acid, which dissolves metals in mines and corrodes concrete and steel. Desulfovibrio desulficans reduces sulfates in waterlogged soils and sewage to hydrogen sulfide, a gas with the common rotten-egg odour.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on sulfur bacteria, visit Britannica.com.
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