Assessment of the nutritional requirements of Treponema denticola disclosed a strict growth dependence on selenium. In vivo labeling of cells of this organism with (75)Se and electrophoretic analysis revealed three labeled bands, two of which were selenoproteins correlating in size with subunits A and B of glycine reductase. Antibodies directed against glycine- or betaine-reductase subunits of Eubacterium acidaminophilum specifically also reacted with proteins from cell lysates of T. denticola. Moreover, ORFs within the T. denticola genome sequence were found whose products display high sequence similarity to glycine-reductase subunits. These findings strongly support the notion that T. denticola ferments amino acids via the activity of glycine reductase, an enzyme previously thought to be restricted to gram-positive bacteria.