An anaerobic landfill leachate bioreactor was operated with crystalline cellulose and sterile landfill leachate until a steady state was reached. Cellulose hydrolysis, acidogenesis, and methanogenesis were measured. Microorganisms attached to the cellulose surfaces were hypothesized to be the cellulose hydrolyzers. 16S rRNA gene clone libraries were prepared from this attached fraction and also from the mixed fraction (biomass associated with cellulose particles and in the planktonic phase). Both clone libraries were dominated by Firmicutes phylum sequences (100% of the attached library and 90% of the mixed library), and the majority fell into one of five lineages of the clostridia. Clone group 1 (most closely related to Clostridium stercorarium), clone group 2 (most closely related to Clostridium thermocellum), and clone group 5 (most closely related to Bacteroides cellulosolvens) comprised sequences in Clostridium group III. Clone group 3 sequences were in Clostridium group XIVa (most closely related to Clostridium sp. strain XB90). Clone group 4 sequences were affiliated with a deeply branching clostridial lineage peripherally associated with Clostridium group VI. This monophyletic group comprises a new Clostridium cluster, designated cluster VIa. Specific fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) probes for the five groups were designed and synthesized, and it was demonstrated in FISH experiments that bacteria targeted by the probes for clone groups 1, 2, 4, and 5 were very abundant on the surfaces of the cellulose particles and likely the key cellulolytic microorganisms in the landfill bioreactor. The FISH probe for clone group 3 targeted cells in the planktonic phase, and these organisms were hypothesized to be glucose fermenters.