Biological diversity in marine OMZs (oxygen minimum zones) is dominated by a complex community of bacteria and archaea whose anaerobic metabolisms mediate key steps in global nitrogen and carbon cycles. Molecular and physiological studies now confirm that OMZs also support diverse micro-organisms capable of utilizing inorganic sulfur compounds for energy metabolism. The present review focuses specifically on recent metagenomic data that have helped to identify the molecular basis for autotrophic sulfur oxidation with nitrate in the OMZ water column, as well as a cryptic role for heterotrophic sulfate reduction. Interpreted alongside marker gene surveys and process rate measurements, these data suggest an active sulfur cycle with potentially substantial roles in organic carbon input and mineralization and critical links to the OMZ nitrogen cycle. Furthermore, these studies have created a framework for comparing the genomic diversity and ecology of pelagic sulfur-metabolizing communities from diverse low-oxygen regions.

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