Sulfur-reducing bacteria get their energy by reducing elemental sulfur to hydrogen sulfide. They couple this reaction with the oxidation of acetate, succinate or other organic compounds.
Some bacteria—such as Proteus, Campylobacter, Pseudomonas and Salmonella—have the ability to reduce sulfur, but can also use oxygen and other terminal electron acceptors. Others, such as Desulfuromonas, use only sulfur.
These bacteria can be used in industrial processes to generate hydrogen sulfide for the precipitation of metals.
Some bacteria can use both elemental sulfur and sulfate as a source of energy. See sulfate-reducing bacteria.