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Review article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Sulfide in engineered methanogenic systems - Friend or foe?

Yekta, Sepehr Shakeri; Svensson, Bo H.; Skyllberg, Ulf; Schnurer, Anna


Sulfide ions are regarded to be toxic to microorganisms in engineered methanogenic systems (EMS), where organic substances are anaerobically converted to products such as methane, hydrogen, alcohols, and carboxylic acids. A vast body of research has addressed solutions to mitigate process disturbances associated with high sulfide levels, yet the established paradigm has drawn the attention away from the multifaceted sulfide interactions with minerals, organics, microbial interfaces and their implications for performance of EMS. This brief review brings forward sulfide-derived pathways other than toxicity and with potential significance for anaerobic organic matter degradation. Available evidence on sulfide reactions with organic matter, interventions with key microbial metabolisms, and interspecies electron transfer are critically synthesized as a guidance for comprehending the sulfide effects on EMS apart from the microbial toxicity. The outcomes identify existing knowledge gaps and specify future research needs as a step forward towards realizing the potential of sulfide-derived mechanisms in diversifying and optimizing EMS applications.


Anaerobic biotechnologies; Sulfurization; Thiols; Micronutrients uptake; Interspecies electron transfer; Organic pollutants; Antibiotic resistant genes; Iron sulfide

Published in

Biotechnology Advances
2023, Volume: 69, article number: 108249Publisher: PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD