The epsilon-proteobacteria have recently been recognized as globally ubiquitous in modern marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and have had a significant role in biogeochemical and geological processes throughout Earth's history. To place this newly expanded group, which consists mainly of uncultured representatives, in an evolutionary context, we present an overview of the taxonomic classification for the class, review ecological and metabolic data in key sulphidic habitats and consider the ecological and geological potential of the epsilon-proteobacteria in modern and ancient systems. These integrated perspectives provide a framework for future culture- and genomic-based studies.
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