Intracellular free iron, is under aerobic conditions and via the Fenton reaction a catalyst for the formation of harmful reactive oxygen species. In this article, we analyzed the relation between intracellular iron storage and oxidative stress response in the sulfate reducing bacterium Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough, an anaerobe that is often found in oxygenated niches. To this end, we investigated the role of the iron storage protein bacterioferritin using transcriptomic and physiological approaches. We observed that transcription of bacterioferritin is strongly induced upon exposure of cells to an oxygenated atmosphere. When grown in the presence of high concentrations of oxygen the D. vulgaris bacterioferritin mutant exhibited, in comparison with the wild type strain, lower viability and a higher content of intracellular reactive oxygen species. Furthermore, the bacterioferritin gene is under the control of the oxidative stress response regulator D. vulgaris PerR. Altogether the data revealed a previously unrecognized ability for the iron storage bacterioferritin to contribute to the oxygen tolerance exhibited by D. vulgar's. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.