Cobamides such as vitamin B 12 are structurally conserved, cobalt-containing tetrapyrrole biomolecules that have essential biochemical functions in all domains of life. In organohalide respiration, a vital biological process for the global cycling of natural and anthropogenic organohalogens, cobamides are the requisite prosthetic groups for carbon-halogen bond-cleaving reductive dehalogenases. This study reports the biosynthesis of a new cobamide with unsubstituted purine as the lower base and assigns unsubstituted purine a biological function by demonstrating that Coα-purinyl-cobamide (purinyl-Cba) is the native prosthetic group in catalytically active tetrachloroethene reductive dehalogenases of Desulfitobacterium hafniense. Cobamides featuring different lower bases are not functionally equivalent, and purinyl-Cba elicits different physiological responses in corrinoid-auxotrophic, organohalide-respiring bacteria. Given that cobamide-dependent enzymes catalyze key steps in essential metabolic pathways, the discovery of a novel cobamide structure and the realization that lower bases can effectively modulate enzyme activities generate opportunities to manipulate functionalities of microbiomes.