Applied and Environmental Microbiology
The chemical stress factors for microbial life at deep-sea hydrothermal vents include high concentrations of heavy metals and sulfide. Three hyperthermophilic vent archaea, the sulfur-reducing heterotrophs Thermococcus fumicolans and Pyrococcus strain GB-D and the chemolithoautotrophic methanogen Methanocaldococcus jannaschii, were tested for survival tolerance to heavy metals (Zn, Co, and Cu) and sulfide. The sulfide addition consistently ameliorated the high toxicity of free metal cations by the formation of dissolved metal-sulfide complexes as well as solid precipitates. Thus, chemical speciation of heavy metals with sulfide allows hydrothermal vent archaea to tolerate otherwise toxic metal concentrations in their natural environment.
Edgcomb, Virginia P.; Molyneaux, Stephen J.; Saito, Mak A.; Lloyd, Karen; Böer, Simone; Wirsen, Carl O.; Atkins, Michael S.; and Teske, Andreas, "Sulfide Ameliorates Metal Toxicity for Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vent Archaea" (2004). Microbiology Publications and Other Works.