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Paracoccus denitrificans, is a coccoid bacterium known for its nitrate reducing properties, its ability to replicate under conditions of hypergravity and for being the possible ancestor of the eukaryotic (endosymbiotic theory).
Paracoccus denitrificans, is a gram-negative, coccus, non-motile, denitrifying (nitrate-reducing) bacterium. It is typically a rod-shaped bacterium but assumes spherical shapes during the stationary phase. Like all gram-negative bacteria, it has a double membrane with a cell wall. Formerly known as Micrococcus denitrificans, it was first isolated in 1910 by Martinus Beijerinck, a Dutch microbiologist. The bacterium was reclassified in 1969 to Paracoccus denitrificans by D.H. Davis. The genome of P. denitrificans was sequenced in 2004.
Metabolically Paracoccus denitrificans is very flexible and has been recorded in soil in both aerobic or environments. The microbe also has the ability to live in many different kinds of media and environments and is known to be an extremophile. The bacteria are able to obtain energy both from organic compounds, such as methanol and methylamine, and from inorganic compounds, such as hydrogen and sulfur. The ability to metabolise compounds of hydrogen and sulfur, such as thiosulfate has led to the microbe being exploited as a model organism for the study of poorly characterized sulfur compound transformations.
The denitrification properties of Paracoccus denitrificans are an important cause for the loss of nitrogen fertilisers in agricultural soil. This is possible due to the chemical process called "denitrification" in which nitrogen is converted to dinitrogen to produce nitric oxide and nitrous oxide which cause damage to the atmosphere.
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