Denitrifying organisms are essential in removing fixed nitrogen pollutants from ecosystems (e.g. sewage sludge). They can be detrimental (e.g. for agricultural soil) and can also produce the greenhouse gas N2O (nitrous oxide). Therefore a more comprehensive understanding of this process has become increasingly important regarding its global environmental impact. Even though bacterial genome sequencing projects may reveal new data, to date the denitrification abilities and features in Gram-positive bacteria are still poorly studied and understood. The present review evaluates current knowledge on the denitrification trait in Gram-positive bacteria and addresses the likely existence of unknown denitrification genes. In addition, current molecular tools to study denitrification gene diversity in pure cultures and environmental samples seem to be highly biased, and additional novel approaches for the detection of denitrifying (Gram-positive) bacteria appear to be crucial in re-assessing the real diversity of denitrifiers.

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