Bioenergetics theory and components | Periplasmic electron-transport systems in bacteria

D. J. Richardson*, G. Sawers, R. J.M. Van Spanning

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionaryAcademicpeer-review


The periplasmic compartment lies between the inner (cytoplasmic) and outer membranes of Gram-negative bacteria. It is frequently termed the ‘periplasmic space’, but this is a misnomer as the term ‘space’ suggests a void and the periplasmic compartment is far from that. In fact, it is a highly metabolically active compartment where many important respiratory electron-transfer proteins are located. In bacteria these periplasmic redox proteins result in a great respiratory diversity, as they can facilitate electron transfer between a range of electron donors (e.g., formate, hydrogen, reduced nitrogen species, and reduced sulfur species) and electron acceptors (e.g., nitrogen and sulfur oxyanions, dimethylsulfoxide, and trimethylamine N oxide). This underlies the success of bacteria in colonizing a wide range of the Earth׳s oxic and anoxic environments and the important contribution of bacteria to critical biogeochemical element cycles, such as the nitrogen, sulfur, and carbon cycles.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Biological Chemistry III
EditorsJoseph Jez
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780128220405
ISBN (Print)9780128194607
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

First edition 2013.

Funding Information:
David Richardson is a professor of microbial biochemistry in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia. He holds a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Birmingham. His principal research interests are in the field of bacterial respiration, where he studies the regulation, cellular organization, and biochemistry of a range of anaerobic electron-transport systems. His contribution to this field was recognized by the award of the Society for General Microbiology Fleming Medal in 1999 and by a Royal Society Wolfson Foundation Merit Fellowship (2007–12). He is honorary editor of Biochemical Society Transactions.


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