The prevalence of lipids devoid of phosphorus suggests that the availability of phosphorus limits microbial growth and activity in many anoxic, stratified environments. To better understand the response of anaerobic bacteria to phosphate limitation and starvation, this study combines microscopic and lipid analyses with the measurements of fitness of pooled barcoded transposon mutants of the model sulfate reducing bacterium Desulfovibrio alaskensis G20. Phosphate-limited G20 has lower growth rates and replaces more than 90% of its membrane phospholipids by a mixture of monoglycosyl diacylglycerol (MGDG), glycuronic acid diacylglycerol (GADG) and ornithine lipids, lacks polyphosphate granules, and synthesizes other cellular inclusions. Analyses of pooled and individual mutants reveal the importance of the high-affinity phosphate transport system (the Pst system), PhoR, and glycolipid and ornithine lipid synthases during phosphate limitation. The phosphate-dependent synthesis of MGDG in G20 and the widespread occurrence of the MGDG/GADG synthase among sulfate reducing ∂-Proteobacteria implicate these microbes in the production of abundant MGDG in anaerobic environments where the concentrations of phosphate are lower than 10 μM. Numerous predicted changes in the composition of the cell envelope and systems involved in transport, maintenance of cytoplasmic redox potential, central metabolism and regulatory pathways also suggest an impact of phosphate limitation on the susceptibility of sulfate reducing bacteria to other anthropogenic or environmental stresses.