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Find video protocols related to scientific articles indexed in Pubmed.
Remediation and selective recovery of metals from acidic mine waters using novel modular bioreactors.
Environ. Sci. Technol.
PUBLISHED: 10-07-2014
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Mine waters are widely regarded as environmental pollutants, but are also potential sources of valuable metals. Water draining the Maurliden mine (Sweden) is highly acidic (pH 2.3) and rich in zinc (?460 mg L(-1)) and iron (?400 mg L(-1)), and contains smaller concentrations (0.3-49 mg L(-1)) of other transition metals and arsenic. We have developed novel techniques that promote the concurrent amelioration of acidic waste waters and selective recovery of metals, and have used these systems to treat synthetic Maurliden mine water in the laboratory. The two major metals present were removed via controlled biomineralization: zinc as ZnS in a sulfidogenic bioreactor, and iron as schwertmannite by microbial iron oxidation and precipitation of ferric iron. A small proportion (?11%) of the schwertmannite produced was used to remove arsenic as the initial step in the process, and other chalcophilic metals (copper, cadmium and cobalt) were removed (as sulfides) in the stage 1 metal sulfide precipitation reactor. Results from this work have demonstrated that modular biomineralization units can be effective at processing complex mine waters and generating metal products that may be recycled. The economic and environmental benefits of using an integrated biological approach for treating metal-rich mine waters is discussed.
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Multi Locus Sequence Typing scheme for Acidithiobacillus caldus strain evaluation and differentiation.
Res. Microbiol.
PUBLISHED: 08-29-2014
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Phenotypic, metabolic and genetic properties of several Acidithiobacillus caldus strains indicate the existence of as yet undefined levels of variation within the species. Inspite of this, intraspecies genetic diversity has not yet been explored in detail. In this study, the design and implementation of a Multi Locus Sequence Typing (MLST) scheme for At. caldus is described. This represents the first MLST-based study applied to industrial isolates of the species. Seven informative and discriminant MLST markers were selected using a sequence-driven approach and a custom-designed bioinformatic pipeline. The allelic profiles of thirteen At. caldus strains from diverse geographical origins and industrial settings were derived using this scheme. MLST-based population structure analysis indicated only moderate amounts of genetic diversity within the set of strains, further supporting their current assignment to a single species. Also, no clear evidence for geographical isolation could be derived from this study. However, the prevalence of sequence type 1 in heap leaching industrial settings support the view that bioprocess conditions and dynamics may have a strong influence on At. caldus (microbial) microdiversity patterns. The MLST scheme presented herein is a valuable tool for the identification and classification of strains of At. caldus for either ecological or evolutionary studies and possibly also for industrial monitoring purposes.
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Draft Genome Sequence of the Nominated Type Strain of "Ferrovum myxofaciens," an Acidophilic, Iron-Oxidizing Betaproteobacterium.
Genome Announc
PUBLISHED: 08-21-2014
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"Ferrovum myxofaciens" is an iron-oxidizing betaproteobacterium with widespread distribution in acidic low-temperature environments, such as acid mine drainage streams. Here, we describe the genomic features of this novel acidophile and investigate the relevant metabolic pathways that enable its survival in these environments.
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Insights into the pathways of iron- and sulfur-oxidation, and biofilm formation from the chemolithotrophic acidophile Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans CF27.
Res. Microbiol.
PUBLISHED: 08-19-2014
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The iron-oxidizing acidithiobacilli cluster into at least four groups, three of which (Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, Acidithiobacillus ferridurans and Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans) have been designated as separate species. While these have many physiological traits in common, they differ in some phenotypic characteristics including motility, and pH and temperature minima. In contrast to At. ferrooxidans and At. ferridurans, all At. ferrivorans strains analysed to date possess the iro gene (encoding an iron oxidase) and, with the exception of strain CF27, the rusB gene encoding an iso-rusticyanin whose exact function is uncertain. Strain CF27 differs from other acidithiobacilli by its marked propensity to form macroscopic biofilms in liquid media. To identify the genetic determinants responsible for the oxidation of ferrous iron and sulfur and for the formation of extracellular polymeric substances, the genome of At. ferrivorans CF27 strain was sequenced and comparative genomic studies carried out with other Acidithiobacillus spp.. Genetic disparities were detected that indicate possible differences in ferrous iron and reduced inorganic sulfur compounds oxidation pathways among iron-oxidizing acidithiobacilli. In addition, strain CF27 is the only sequenced Acidithiobacillus spp. to possess genes involved in the biosynthesis of fucose, a sugar known to confer high thickening and flocculating properties to extracellular polymeric substances.
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Acidibacter ferrireducens gen. nov., sp. nov.: an acidophilic ferric iron-reducing gammaproteobacterium.
Extremophiles
PUBLISHED: 08-13-2014
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An acidophilic gammaproteobacterium, isolated from a pit lake at an abandoned metal mine in south-west Spain, was shown to be distantly related to all characterized prokaryotes, and to be the first representative of a novel genus and species. Isolate MCF85 is a Gram-negative, non-motile, rod-shaped mesophilic bacterium with a temperature growth optimum of 32-35 °C (range 8-45 °C). It was categorized as a moderate acidophile, growing optimally at pH 3.5-4.0 and between pH 2.5 and 4.5. Under optimum conditions its culture doubling time was around 75 min. Only organic electron donors were used by MCF85, and the isolate was confirmed to be an obligate heterotroph. It grew on a limited range of sugars (hexoses and disaccharides, though not pentoses) and some other small molecular weight organic compounds, and growth was partially or completely inhibited by small concentrations of some aliphatic acids. The acidophile grew in the presence of >100 mM ferrous iron or aluminium, but was more sensitive to some other metals, such as copper. It was also much more tolerant of arsenic (V) than arsenic (III). Isolate MCF85 catalysed the reductive dissolution of the ferric iron mineral schwertmannite when incubated under micro-aerobic or anaerobic conditions, causing the culture media pH to increase. There was no evidence, however, that the acidophile could grow by ferric iron respiration under strictly anoxic conditions. Isolate MCF85 is the designated type strain of the novel species Acidibacter ferrireducens (=DSM 27237(T) = NCCB 100460(T)).
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Desulfosporosinus acididurans sp. nov.: an acidophilic sulfate-reducing bacterium isolated from acidic sediments.
Extremophiles
PUBLISHED: 07-17-2014
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Three strains of sulfate-reducing bacteria (M1(T), D, and E) were isolated from acidic sediments (White river and Tinto river) and characterized phylogenetically and physiologically. All three strains were obligately anaerobic, mesophilic, spore-forming straight rods, stained Gram-negative and displayed variable motility during active growth. The pH range for growth was 3.8-7.0, with an optimum at pH 5.5. The temperature range for growth was 15-40 °C, with an optimum at 30 °C. Strains M1(T), D, and E used a wide range of electron donors and acceptors, with certain variability within the different strains. The nominated type strain (M1(T)) used ferric iron, nitrate, sulfate, elemental sulfur, and thiosulfate (but not arsenate, sulfite, or fumarate) as electron acceptors, and organic acids (formate, lactate, butyrate, fumarate, malate, and pyruvate), alcohols (glycerol, methanol, and ethanol), yeast extract, and sugars (xylose, glucose, and fructose) as electron donors. It also fermented some substrates such as pyruvate and formate. Strain M1(T) tolerated up to 50 mM ferrous iron and 10 mM aluminum, but was inhibited by 1 mM copper. On the basis of phenotypic, phylogenetic, and genetic characteristics, strains M1(T), D, and E represent a novel species within the genus Desulfosporosinus, for which the name Desulfosporosinus acididurans sp. nov. is proposed. The type strain is M1(T) (=DSM 27692(T) = JCM 19471(T)). Strain M1(T) was the first acidophilic SRB isolated, and it is the third described species of acidophilic SRB besides Desulfosporosinus acidiphilus and Thermodesulfobium narugense.
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Diversity of acidophilic prokaryotes at two acid mine drainage sites in Turkey.
Environ Sci Pollut Res Int
PUBLISHED: 07-15-2014
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The biodiversity of acidophilic prokaryotes in two acidic (pH 2.8-3.05) mine drainage (AMD) sites (Balya and Çan) in Turkey was examined using a combined cultivation-based and cultivation-independent approach. The latter included analyzing microbial diversity using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), terminal restriction enzyme fragment length polymorphism (`T-RFLP), and quantitative PCR (qPCR). Numbers of cultivatable heterotrophic acidophilic bacteria were over an order of magnitude greater than those of chemolithotrophic acidophiles in both AMD ponds examined. Isolates identified as strains of Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans, Acidiphilium organovorum, and Ferrimicrobium acidiphilum were isolated from the Balya AMD pond, and others identified as strains of Leptospirillum ferriphilum, Acidicapsa ligni, and Acidiphilium rubrum from Çan AMD. Other isolates were too distantly related (from analysis of their 16S rRNA genes) to be identified at the species level. Archaeal diversity in the two ponds appeared to be far more limited. T-RFLP and qPCR confirmed the presence of Ferroplasma-like prokaryotes, but no archaea were isolated from the two sites. qPCR generated semiquantitative data for genera of some of the iron-oxidizing acidophiles isolated and/or detected, suggesting the order of abundance was Leptospirillum?>?Ferroplasma?>?Acidithiobacillus (Balya AMD) and Ferroplasma?>?Leptospirillum?>?Acidithiobacillus (Çan AMD).
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Microorganisms in subterranean acidic waters within Europe's deepest metal mine.
Res. Microbiol.
PUBLISHED: 04-02-2014
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The Pyhäsalmi mine, central Finland, has operated as a deep metal mine since 1967. It currently reaches a depth of almost 1500 m, making it the deepest mining operation in Europe. Around 900,000 m(3) of metal-rich, extremely acidic water are pumped out of the mine each year. The near constant air temperature of ?24 °C together with exposure of sulfidic rock surfaces to air and water, have created an environment that is highly suitable for colonization by acidophilic mineral-oxidizing microorganisms. Using a combined cultivation-dependent and molecular approach, indigenous bacteria in waters at two depths within the mine, and of an acid streamer sample were identified and isolated. Iron-oxidizing chemolithotrophs (Acidithiobacillus and Leptospirillum spp., and "Ferrovum myxofaciens" were the most abundant bacteria in mine water samples, whereas the acid streamer community contained a greater proportion of heterotrophic acidophiles (Ferrimicrobium acidiphilum and a gammaproteobacterium related to Metallibacterium scheffleri). The most abundant isolates obtained from both water and streamer samples were all strains of Acidithiobacillus Group IV, a proposed separate species of iron-oxidizing acidithiobacilli that has not yet been classified as such. Archaea were also detected in water and streamer samples using molecular methods, but most were not identified and no isolates were obtained.
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Extraction of copper from an oxidized (lateritic) ore using bacterially catalysed reductive dissolution.
Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol.
PUBLISHED: 01-23-2014
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An oxidized lateritic ore which contained 0.8 % (by weight) copper was bioleached in pH- and temperature-controlled stirred reactors under acidic reducing conditions using pure and mixed cultures of the acidophilic chemolithotrophic bacterium Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans. Sulfur was provided as the electron donor for the bacteria, and ferric iron present in goethite (the major ferric iron mineral present in the ore) acted as electron acceptor. Significantly more copper was leached by bacterially catalysed reductive dissolution of the laterite than in aerobic cultures or in sterile anoxic reactors, with up to 78 % of the copper present in the ore being extracted. This included copper that was leached from acid-labile minerals (chiefly copper silicates) and that which was associated with ferric iron minerals in the lateritic ore. In the anaerobic bioreactors, soluble iron in the leach liquors was present as iron (II) and copper as copper (I), but both metals were rapidly oxidized (to iron (III) and copper (II)) when the reactors were aerated. The number of bacteria added to the reactors had a critical role in dictating the rate and yield of copper solubilised from the ore. This work has provided further evidence that reductive bioprocessing, a recently described approach for extracting base metals from oxidized deposits, has the potential to greatly extend the range of metal ores that can be biomined.
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Biomining-biotechnologies for extracting and recovering metals from ores and waste materials.
Curr. Opin. Biotechnol.
PUBLISHED: 01-22-2014
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The abilities of acidophilic chemolithotrophic bacteria and archaea to accelerate the oxidative dissolution of sulfide minerals have been harnessed in the development and application of a biotechnology for extracting metals from sulfidic ores and concentrates. Biomining is currently used primarily to leach copper sulfides and as an oxidative pretreatment for refractory gold ores, though it is also used to recover other base metals, such as cobalt, nickel and zinc. Recent developments have included using acidophiles to process electronic wastes, to extract metals from oxidized ores, and to selectively recover metals from process waters and waste streams. This review describes the microorganisms and mechanisms involved in commercial biomining operations, how the technology has developed over the past 50 years, and discusses the challenges and opportunities for mineral biotechnologies in the 21st century.
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Uncovering a Microbial Enigma: Isolation and Characterization of the Streamer-Generating, Iron-Oxidizing, Acidophilic Bacterium "Ferrovum myxofaciens".
Appl. Environ. Microbiol.
PUBLISHED: 11-15-2013
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A betaproteobacterium, shown by molecular techniques to have widespread global distribution in extremely acidic (pH 2 to 4) ferruginous mine waters and also to be a major component of "acid streamer" growths in mine-impacted water bodies, has proven to be recalcitrant to enrichment and isolation. A modified "overlay" solid medium was devised and used to isolate this bacterium from a number of mine water samples. The physiological and phylogenetic characteristics of a pure culture of an isolate from an abandoned copper mine ("Ferrovum myxofaciens" strain P3G) have been elucidated. "F. myxofaciens" is an extremely acidophilic, psychrotolerant obligate autotroph that appears to use only ferrous iron as an electron donor and oxygen as an electron acceptor. It appears to use the Calvin-Benson-Bassham pathway to fix CO2 and is diazotrophic. It also produces copious amounts of extracellular polymeric materials that cause cells to attach to each other (and to form small streamer-like growth in vitro) and to different solid surfaces. "F. myxofaciens" can catalyze the oxidative dissolution of pyrite and, like many other acidophiles, is tolerant of many (cationic) transition metals. "F. myxofaciens" and related clone sequences form a monophyletic group within the Betaproteobacteria distantly related to classified orders, with genera of the family Nitrosomonadaceae (lithoautotrophic, ammonium-oxidizing neutrophiles) as the closest relatives. On the basis of the phylogenetic and phenotypic differences of "F. myxofaciens" and other Betaproteobacteria, a new family, "Ferrovaceae," and order, "Ferrovales," within the class Betaproteobacteria are proposed. "F. myxofaciens" is the first extreme acidophile to be described in the class Betaproteobacteria.
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Aerobic and anaerobic oxidation of hydrogen by acidophilic bacteria.
FEMS Microbiol. Lett.
PUBLISHED: 07-26-2013
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While many prokaryotic species are known to use hydrogen as an electron donor to support their growth, this trait has only previously been reported for two acidophilic bacteria, Hydrogenobaculum acidophilum (in the presence of reduced sulfur) and Acidithiobacillus (At.) ferrooxidans. To test the hypothesis that hydrogen may be utilized more widely by acidophilic bacteria, 38 strains of acidophilic bacteria, including representatives of 20 designated and four proposed species, were screened for their abilities to grow via the dissimilatory oxidation of hydrogen. Growth was demonstrated in several species of acidophiles that also use other inorganic electron donors (ferrous iron and sulfur) but in none of the obligately heterotrophic species tested. Strains of At. ferrooxidans, At. ferridurans and At. caldus, grew chemolithotrophically on hydrogen, though those of At. thiooxidans and At. ferrivorans did not. Growth was also observed with Sulfobacillus acidophilus, Sb. benefaciens and Sb. thermosulfidooxidans, though not with other iron-oxidizing Firmicutes. Similarly, Acidimicrobium ferrooxidans grew on hydrogen, closely related acidophilic actinobacteria did not. Growth yields of At. ferrooxidans and At. ferridurans grown aerobically on hydrogen (c. 10(10)  cells mL(-1) ) were far greater than typically obtained using other electron donors. Several species also grew anaerobically by coupling hydrogen oxidation to the reduction of ferric iron.
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New insights into the biogeochemistry of extremely acidic environments revealed by a combined cultivation-based and culture-independent study of two stratified pit lakes.
FEMS Microbiol. Ecol.
PUBLISHED: 07-26-2013
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The indigenous microbial communities of two extremely acidic, metal-rich stratified pit lakes, located in the Iberian Pyrite Belt (Spain), were identified, and their roles in mediating transformations of carbon, iron, and sulfur were confirmed. A combined cultivation-based and culture-independent approach was used to elucidate microbial communities at different depths and to examine the physiologies of isolates, which included representatives of at least one novel genus and several species of acidophilic Bacteria. Phosphate availability correlated with redox transformations of iron, and this (rather than solar radiation) dictated where primary production was concentrated. Carbon fixed and released as organic compounds by acidophilic phototrophs acted as electron donors for acidophilic heterotrophic prokaryotes, many of which catalyzed the dissimilatory reduction in ferric iron; the ferrous iron generated was re-oxidized by chemolithotrophic acidophiles. Bacteria that catalyze redox transformations of sulfur were also identified, although these Bacteria appeared to be less abundant than the iron oxidizers/reducers. Primary production and microbial numbers were greatest, and biogeochemical transformation of carbon, iron, and sulfur, most intense, within a zone of c. 8-10 m depth, close to the chemocline, in both pit lakes. Archaea detected in sediments included two Thaumarchaeota clones, indicating that members of this recently described phylum can inhabit extremely acidic environments.
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Acidithiobacillus ferridurans sp. nov., an acidophilic iron-, sulfur- and hydrogen-metabolizing chemolithotrophic gammaproteobacterium.
Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol.
PUBLISHED: 05-24-2013
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Twelve strains of iron-oxidizing acidithiobacilli isolated from acidic sites throughout the world, including some previously shown by multi-locus sequence analyses and DNA-DNA hybridization to comprise a distinct species, were characterized in terms of their physiologies. The bacteria were shown to be obligately chemolithotrophic, acidophilic and mesophilic, and grew in both oxic and anoxic environments, using ferrous iron, reduced sulfur or hydrogen as electron donors and oxygen or ferric iron as electron acceptors. Some of the strains grew at lower pH than those reported for the two recognized iron-oxidizing Acidithiobacillus species, Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans and Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans. Tolerance of transition metals and aluminium, and also specific rates of iron oxidation and reduction, were more similar to those of A. ferrooxidans (to which the strains are more closely related) than to A. ferrivorans. The name Acidithiobacillus ferridurans sp. nov. is proposed to accommodate the 12 strains, with the type strain being JCM 18981(T) (?=?ATCC 33020(T)).
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Acidocella aromatica sp. nov.: an acidophilic heterotrophic alphaproteobacterium with unusual phenotypic traits.
Extremophiles
PUBLISHED: 05-16-2013
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Three obligately heterotrophic bacterial isolates were identified as strains of a proposed novel species of extremely acidophilic, mesophilic Alphaproteobacteria, Acidocella aromatica. They utilized a restricted range of organic substrates, which included fructose (but none of the other monosaccharides tested), acetate and several aromatic compounds (benzoate, benzyl alcohol and phenol). No growth was obtained on complex organic substrates, such as yeast extract and tryptone. Tolerance of the proposed type strain of the species (PFBC) to acetic acid was much greater than that typically reported for acidophiles. The bacteria grew aerobically, and catalyzed the dissimilatory reductive dissolution of the ferric iron mineral schwertmannite under both micro-aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Strain PFBC did not grow anaerobically via ferric iron respiration, though it has been reported to grow in co-culture with acid-tolerant sulfidogenic bacteria under strictly anoxic conditions. Tolerance of strains of Acidocella aromatica to nickel were about two orders of magnitude greater than those of other Acidocella spp., though similar levels of tolerance to other metals tested was observed. The use of this novel acidophile in solid media designed to promote the isolation and growth of other (aerobic and anaerobic) acidophilic heterotrophs is discussed.
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Anaerobic sulfur metabolism coupled to dissimilatory iron reduction in the extremophile Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans.
Appl. Environ. Microbiol.
PUBLISHED: 01-25-2013
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Gene transcription (microarrays) and protein levels (proteomics) were compared in cultures of the acidophilic chemolithotroph Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans grown on elemental sulfur as the electron donor under aerobic and anaerobic conditions, using either molecular oxygen or ferric iron as the electron acceptor, respectively. No evidence supporting the role of either tetrathionate hydrolase or arsenic reductase in mediating the transfer of electrons to ferric iron (as suggested by previous studies) was obtained. In addition, no novel ferric iron reductase was identified. However, data suggested that sulfur was disproportionated under anaerobic conditions, forming hydrogen sulfide via sulfur reductase and sulfate via heterodisulfide reductase and ATP sulfurylase. Supporting physiological evidence for H2S production came from the observation that soluble Cu(2+) included in anaerobically incubated cultures was precipitated (seemingly as CuS). Since H(2)S reduces ferric iron to ferrous in acidic medium, its production under anaerobic conditions indicates that anaerobic iron reduction is mediated, at least in part, by an indirect mechanism. Evidence was obtained for an alternative model implicating the transfer of electrons from S(0) to Fe(3+) via a respiratory chain that includes a bc(1) complex and a cytochrome c. Central carbon pathways were upregulated under aerobic conditions, correlating with higher growth rates, while many Calvin-Benson-Bassham cycle components were upregulated during anaerobic growth, probably as a result of more limited access to carbon dioxide. These results are important for understanding the role of A. ferrooxidans in environmental biogeochemical metal cycling and in industrial bioleaching operations.
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Development and application of biotechnologies in the metal mining industry.
Environ Sci Pollut Res Int
PUBLISHED: 01-08-2013
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Metal mining faces a number of significant economic and environmental challenges in the twenty-first century for which established and emerging biotechnologies may, at least in part, provide the answers. Bioprocessing of mineral ores and concentrates is already used in variously engineered formats to extract base (e.g., copper, cobalt, and nickel) and precious (gold and silver) metals in mines throughout the world, though it remains a niche technology. However, current projections of an increasing future need to use low-grade primary metal ores, to reprocess mine wastes, and to develop in situ leaching technologies to extract metals from deep-buried ore bodies, all of which are economically more amenable to bioprocessing than conventional approaches (e.g., pyrometallurgy), would suggest that biomining will become more extensively utilized in the future. Recent research has also shown that bioleaching could be used to process a far wider range of metal ores (e.g., oxidized ores) than has previously been the case. Biotechnologies are also being developed to control mine-related pollution, including securing mine wastes (rocks and tailings) by using "ecological engineering" approaches, and also to remediate and recover metals from waste waters, such as acid mine drainage. This article reviews the current status of biotechnologies within the mining sector and considers how these may be developed and applied in future years.
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Significance of microbial communities and interactions in safeguarding reactive mine tailings by ecological engineering.
Appl. Environ. Microbiol.
PUBLISHED: 09-30-2011
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Pyritic mine tailings (mineral waste generated by metal mining) pose significant risk to the environment as point sources of acidic, metal-rich effluents (acid mine drainage [AMD]). While the accelerated oxidative dissolution of pyrite and other sulfide minerals in tailings by acidophilic chemolithotrophic prokaryotes has been widely reported, other acidophiles (heterotrophic bacteria that catalyze the dissimilatory reduction of iron and sulfur) can reverse the reactions involved in AMD genesis, and these have been implicated in the "natural attenuation" of mine waters. We have investigated whether by manipulating microbial communities in tailings (inoculating with iron- and sulfur-reducing acidophilic bacteria and phototrophic acidophilic microalgae) it is possible to mitigate the impact of the acid-generating and metal-mobilizing chemolithotrophic prokaryotes that are indigenous to tailing deposits. Sixty tailings mesocosms were set up, using five different microbial inoculation variants, and analyzed at regular intervals for changes in physicochemical and microbiological parameters for up to 1 year. Differences between treatment protocols were most apparent between tailings that had been inoculated with acidophilic algae in addition to aerobic and anaerobic heterotrophic bacteria and those that had been inoculated with only pyrite-oxidizing chemolithotrophs; these differences included higher pH values, lower redox potentials, and smaller concentrations of soluble copper and zinc. The results suggest that empirical ecological engineering of tailing lagoons to promote the growth and activities of iron- and sulfate-reducing bacteria could minimize their risk of AMD production and that the heterotrophic populations could be sustained by facilitating the growth of microalgae to provide continuous inputs of organic carbon.
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A modular continuous flow reactor system for the selective bio-oxidation of iron and precipitation of schwertmannite from mine-impacted waters.
Bioresour. Technol.
PUBLISHED: 09-09-2011
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A novel modular bioremediation system which facilitates the selective removal of soluble iron from extremely acidic (pH ?2) metal-rich wastewaters by ferrous iron oxidation and selective precipitation of the ferric iron produced is described. In the first of the three modules, rapid ferrous iron oxidation was mediated by the recently-characterized iron-oxidizing autotrophic acidophile, "Ferrovum myxofaciens", which grew as long "streamers" within the reactor. Over 90% of the iron present in influent test liquors containing 280mg/L iron was oxidized at a dilution rate of 0.41h(-1), in a proton-consuming reaction. The ferric iron-rich solutions produced were pumped into a second reactor where controlled addition of sodium hydroxide caused the water pH to increase to 3.5 and ferric iron to precipitate as the mineral schwertmannite. Addition of a flocculating agent promoted rapid aggregation and settling of the fine-grain schwertmannite particles. A third passive module (a packed-bed bioreactor, also inoculated with "Fv. myxofaciens") acted as a polishing reactor, lowering soluble iron concentrations in the processed water to <1mg/L. The system was highly effective in selectively removing iron from a synthetic acidic (pH 2.1) mine water that contained soluble aluminum, copper, manganese and zinc in addition to iron. Schwertmannite was again produced, with little or no co-precipitation of other metals.
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Selective removal of transition metals from acidic mine waters by novel consortia of acidophilic sulfidogenic bacteria.
Microb Biotechnol
PUBLISHED: 09-06-2011
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Two continuous-flow bench-scale bioreactor systems populated by mixed communities of acidophilic sulfate-reducing bacteria were constructed and tested for their abilities to promote the selective precipitation of transition metals (as sulfides) present in synthetic mine waters, using glycerol as electron donor. The objective with the first system (selective precipitation of copper from acidic mine water containing a variety of soluble metals) was achieved by maintaining a bioreactor pH of ? 2.2-2.5. The second system was fed with acidic (pH 2.5) synthetic mine water containing 3 mM of both zinc and ferrous iron, and varying concentrations (0.5-30 mM) of aluminium. Selective precipitation of zinc sulfide was possible by operating the bioreactor at pH 4.0 and supplementing the synthetic mine water with 4 mM glycerol. Analysis of the microbial populations in the bioreactors showed that they changed with varying operational parameters, and novel acidophilic bacteria (including one sulfidogen) were isolated from the bioreactors. The acidophilic sulfidogenic bioreactors provided proof of principle that segregation of metals present in mine waters is possible using simple online systems within which controlled pH conditions are maintained. The modular units are versatile and robust, and involve minimum engineering complexity.
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The iron-oxidizing proteobacteria.
Microbiology (Reading, Engl.)
PUBLISHED: 04-21-2011
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The iron bacteria are a collection of morphologically and phylogenetically heterogeneous prokaryotes. They include some of the first micro-organisms to be observed and described, and continue to be the subject of a considerable body of fundamental and applied microbiological research. While species of iron-oxidizing bacteria can be found in many different phyla, most are affiliated with the Proteobacteria. The latter can be subdivided into four main physiological groups: (i) acidophilic, aerobic iron oxidizers; (ii) neutrophilic, aerobic iron oxidizers; (iii) neutrophilic, anaerobic (nitrate-dependent) iron oxidizers; and (iv) anaerobic photosynthetic iron oxidizers. Some species (mostly acidophiles) can reduce ferric iron as well as oxidize ferrous iron, depending on prevailing environmental conditions. This review describes what is currently known about the phylogenetic and physiological diversity of the iron-oxidizing proteobacteria, their significance in the environment (on the global and micro scales), and their increasing importance in biotechnology.
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Biodiversity and geochemistry of an extremely acidic, low-temperature subterranean environment sustained by chemolithotrophy.
Environ. Microbiol.
PUBLISHED: 03-07-2011
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The geochemical dynamics and composition of microbial communities within a low-temperature (? 8.5°C), long-abandoned (> 90 years) underground pyrite mine (Cae Coch, located in north Wales) were investigated. Surface water percolating through fractures in the residual pyrite ore body that forms the roof of the mine becomes extremely acidic and iron-enriched due to microbially accelerated oxidative dissolution of the sulfide mineral. Water droplets on the mine roof were found to host a very limited diversity of exclusively autotrophic microorganisms, dominated by the recently described psychrotolerant iron/sulfur-oxidizing acidophile Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans, and smaller numbers of iron-oxidizing Leptospirillum ferrooxidans. In contrast, flowing water within the mine chamber was colonized with vast macroscopic microbial growths, in the form of acid streamers and microbial stalactites, where the dominant microorganisms were Betaproteobacteria (autotrophic iron oxidizers such as Ferrovum myxofaciens and a bacterium related to Gallionella ferruginea). An isolated pool within the mine showed some similarity (although greater biodiversity) to the roof droplets, and was the only site where archaea were relatively abundant. Bacteria not previously associated with extremely acidic, metal-rich environments (a Sphingomonas sp. and Ralstonia pickettii) were found within the abandoned mine. Data supported the hypothesis that the Cae Coch ecosystem is underpinned by acidophilic, mostly autotrophic, bacteria that use ferrous iron present in the pyrite ore body as their source of energy, with a limited role for sulfur-based autotrophy. Results of this study highlight the importance of novel bacterial species (At. ferrivorans and acidophilic iron-oxidizing Betaproteobacteria) in mediating mineral oxidation and redox transformations of iron in acidic, low-temperature environments.
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Characteristics of a phylogenetically ambiguous, arsenic-oxidizing Thiomonas sp., Thiomonas arsenitoxydans strain 3As(T) sp. nov.
Arch. Microbiol.
PUBLISHED: 02-10-2011
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A moderately acidophilic, facultative chemoautotrophic, As(III)-oxidizing Thiomonas sp. (strain 3As(T)) was previously shown, on the basis of comparative 16S rRNA gene sequences, to be closely related to both Tm. perometabolis DSM 18570(T) and Tm. intermedia DSM 18155(T). While it had shared many physiological traits with Tm. intermedia (T), a mean DNA-DNA hybridization value (DDHV) of 47.2% confirmed that strain 3As(T) was not a strain of Tm. intermedia, though the situation with regard to Tm. perometabolis (DDHV previously determined as 72%) was more ambiguous. A comparative physiological and chemotaxonomic study of strain 3As(T) and Tm. perometabolis (T) was therefore carried out, together with multilocus sequence analysis (MLSA) of all three bacteria. Differences in fatty acid profiles and utilization of organic substrates supported the view that strain 3As(T) and Tm. perometabolis are distinct species, while MLSA showed a closer relationship between strain 3As(T) and Tm. intermedia (T) than between strain 3As(T) and Tm. perometabolis (T). These apparent contradictory conclusions were explained by differences in genome of these three bacteria, which are known to be highly flexible in Thiomonas spp. A novel species designation Thiomonas arsenitoxydans is proposed for strain 3As(T) (DSM 22701(T), CIP 110005(T)), which is nominated as the type strain of this species.
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Acidiferrobacter thiooxydans, gen. nov. sp. nov.; an acidophilic, thermo-tolerant, facultatively anaerobic iron- and sulfur-oxidizer of the family Ectothiorhodospiraceae.
Extremophiles
PUBLISHED: 01-18-2011
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A comprehensive physiological and phylogenetic characterisation was carried out of "Thiobacillus ferrooxidans" m-1, an acidophilic iron-oxidizing bacterium first described over 25 years ago. Phylogenetically, strain m-1 is a gammaproteobacterium, most closely related to alkaliphilic Ectothiorhodospira spp. and only distantly to iron-oxidizing acidithiobacilli. Physiological examination confirmed that strain m-1 can grow autotrophically not only by ferrous iron oxidation but also, in contrast to previous reports, by oxidation of elemental sulfur, sulfide and tetrathionate, using either oxygen or ferric iron as terminal electron acceptor. The bacterium was also found to be thermo-tolerant, growing optimally at 38°C and up to a maximum of 47°C. Growth in liquid media required an external osmotic potential of >2 bar, and was optimal at ~5 bar, though no growth occurred where the medium osmotic potential was close to that of sea water (~26 bar). From this, it was concluded that strain m-1 is a moderate osmophile. Strain m-1 was also shown to be diazotrophic and tolerant of elevated concentrations of many metals typically found in mine-impacted environments. On the basis of these data, m-1 is proposed as the type strain of a new genus and species of bacteria, Acidiferrobacter thiooxydans (DSM 2392, JCM 17358).
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Phylogenetic and genetic variation among Fe(II)-oxidizing acidithiobacilli supports the view that these comprise multiple species with different ferrous iron oxidation pathways.
Microbiology (Reading, Engl.)
PUBLISHED: 09-30-2010
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Autotrophic acidophilic iron- and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria of the genus Acidithiobacillus constitute a heterogeneous taxon encompassing a high degree of diversity at the phylogenetic and genetic levels, though currently only two species are recognized (Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans and Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans). One of the major functional disparities concerns the biochemical mechanisms of iron and sulfur oxidation, with discrepancies reported in the literature concerning the genes and proteins involved in these processes. These include two types of high-potential iron-sulfur proteins (HiPIPs): (i) Iro, which has been described as the iron oxidase; and (ii) Hip, which has been proposed to be involved in the electron transfer between sulfur compounds and oxygen. In addition, two rusticyanins have been described: (i) rusticyanin A, encoded by the rusA gene and belonging to the well-characterized rus operon, which plays a central role in the iron respiratory chain; and (ii) rusticyanin B, a protein to which no function has yet been ascribed. Data from a multilocus sequence analysis of 21 strains of Fe(II)-oxidizing acidithiobacilli obtained from public and private collections using five phylogenetic markers showed that these strains could be divided into four monophyletic groups. These divisions correlated not only with levels of genomic DNA hybridization and phenotypic differences among the strains, but also with the types of rusticyanin and HiPIPs that they harbour. Taken together, the data indicate that Fe(II)-oxidizing acidithiobacilli comprise at least four distinct taxa, all of which are able to oxidize both ferrous iron and sulfur, and suggest that different iron oxidation pathways have evolved in these closely related bacteria.
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Production of glycolic acid by chemolithotrophic iron- and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria and its role in delineating and sustaining acidophilic sulfide mineral-oxidizing consortia.
Appl. Environ. Microbiol.
PUBLISHED: 11-20-2009
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Glycolic acid was detected as an exudate in actively growing cultures of three chemolithotrophic acidophiles that are important in biomining operations, Leptospirillum ferriphilum, Acidithiobacillus (At.) ferrooxidans, and At. caldus. Although similar concentrations of glycolic acid were found in all cases, the concentrations corresponded to ca. 24% of the total dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in cultures of L. ferriphilum but only ca. 5% of the total DOC in cultures of the two Acidithiobacillus spp. Rapid acidification (to pH 1.0) of the culture medium of At. caldus resulted in a large increase in the level of DOC, although the concentration of glycolic acid did not change in proportion. The archaeon Ferroplasma acidiphilum grew in the cell-free spent medium of At. caldus; glycolic acid was not metabolized, although other unidentified compounds in the DOC pool were metabolized. Glycolic acid exhibited levels of toxicity with 21 strains of acidophiles screened similar to those of acetic acid. The most sensitive species were chemolithotrophs (L. ferriphilum and At. ferrivorans), while the most tolerant species were chemoorganotrophs (Acidocella, Acidobacterium, and Ferroplasma species), and the ability to metabolize glycolic acid appeared to be restricted (among acidophiles) to Firmicutes (chiefly Sulfobacillus spp.). Results of this study help explain why Sulfobacillus spp. rather than other acidophiles are the main organic carbon-degrading bacteria in continuously fed stirred tanks used to bioprocess sulfide mineral concentrates and also why temporary cessation of pH control in these systems, resulting in rapid acidification, often results in a plume of the archaeon Ferroplasma.
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Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans, sp. nov.; facultatively anaerobic, psychrotolerant iron-, and sulfur-oxidizing acidophiles isolated from metal mine-impacted environments.
Extremophiles
PUBLISHED: 08-27-2009
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Phenotypic and genotypic analysis was carried out on four iron- and sulfur-oxidizing acidophilic bacteria (the "NO-37 group") isolated from different parts of the world. 16S rRNA phylogeny showed that they are highly related to each other, but are less related to the type strain of Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans. The NO-37 group isolates are obligate chemolithoautotrophs, facultative anaerobes, diazotrophic, and psychrotolerant. They are less tolerant of extremely low pH, and in contrast to At. ferrooxidans (T), all of the NO-37 group isolates are motile. The GC contents of genomic DNA of the NO-37 group isolates were around 56 mol% and the DNA-DNA hybridization value between genomic DNA of isolate NO-37 and At. ferrooxidans (T) was 37%. It also appears that the bacteria of the NO-37 group have a different biochemical mechanism for oxidizing ferrous iron than At. ferrooxidans (T); the gene coding for the archetypal rusticyanin (RusA) was not detected in any of the NO-37 group isolates, rather a gene coding for a homologous protein (RusB) was amplified from three of the four novel isolates. Isolates of the NO-37 group clearly belong to a species that is different to those already recognized in the genus Acidithiobacillus, for which the name Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans is proposed.
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Ferrimicrobium acidiphilum gen. nov., sp. nov. and Ferrithrix thermotolerans gen. nov., sp. nov.: heterotrophic, iron-oxidizing, extremely acidophilic actinobacteria.
Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol.
PUBLISHED: 05-02-2009
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Two novel extremely acidophilic, iron-oxidizing actinobacteria were isolated, one from a mine site in North Wales, UK (isolate T23(T)), and the other from a geothermal site in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA (Y005(T)). These new actinobacteria belong to the subclass Acidimicrobidae, and in contrast to the only other classified member of the subclass (Acidimicrobium ferrooxidans), both isolates were obligate heterotrophs. The mine site isolate was mesophilic and grew as small rods, while the Yellowstone isolate was a moderate thermophile and grew as long filaments, forming macroscopic flocs in liquid media. Both isolates accelerated the oxidative dissolution of pyrite in yeast extract-amended cultures, but neither was able to oxidize reduced forms of sulfur. Ferrous iron oxidation enhanced growth yields of the novel mesophilic actinobacterium T23(T), though this was not confirmed for the Yellowstone isolate. Both isolates catalysed the dissimilatory reduction of ferric iron, using glycerol as electron donor, in oxygen-free medium. Based on comparative analyses of base compositions of their chromosomal DNA and of their 16S rRNA gene sequences, the isolates are both distinct from each other and from Acidimicrobium ferrooxidans, and are representatives of two novel genera. The names Ferrimicrobium acidiphilum gen. nov., sp. nov. and Ferrithrix thermotolerans gen. nov., sp. nov. are proposed for the mesophilic and moderately thermophilic isolates, respectively, with the respective type strains T23(T) (=DSM 19497(T)=ATCC BAA-1647(T)) and Y005(T) (=DSM 19514(T)=ATCC BAA-1645(T)).
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Carbon, iron and sulfur metabolism in acidophilic micro-organisms.
Adv. Microb. Physiol.
PUBLISHED: 04-17-2009
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Acidophilic micro-organisms are those (mostly prokaryotes) that grow optimally at pH <3 (extreme acidophiles) or at pH 3-5 (moderate acidophiles). Although once considered to comprise relatively few species of bacteria and archaea, the biodiversity of extreme acidophiles is now recognized as being extensive, both in terms of their physiologies and phylogenetic affiliations. Chemolithotrophy (the ability to use inorganic chemicals as electron donors) is widespread among extreme acidophiles, as ferrous iron and sulfur represent two major available energy sources in many natural and man-made extremely acidic environments. Dissimilatory reduction of iron and sulfur (as a consequence of their use as electron acceptors in oxygen-limited and anoxic environments) are also a major biogeochemical processes in low-pH environments. Acidophiles display considerable diversity in how they assimilate carbon; some are obligate autotrophs, others obligate heterotrophs, while a large number use either organic or inorganic carbon, depending on the availability of the former. This review describes the intricate relationships between carbon, iron and sulfur transformations by acidophilic micro-organisms, and how these are significant in both industrial and environmental contexts.
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Acidophilic algae isolated from mine-impacted environments and their roles in sustaining heterotrophic acidophiles.
Front Microbiol
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Two acidophilic algae, identified as strains of Chlorella protothecoides var. acidicola and Euglena mutabilis, were isolated in pure culture from abandoned copper mines in Spain and Wales and grown in pH- and temperature-controlled bioreactors. The Chlorella isolate grew optimally at pH 2.5 and 30°C, with a corresponding culture doubling time of 9 h. The isolates displayed similar tolerance (10-50 mM) to four transition metals tested. Growth of the algae in liquid media was paralleled with increasing concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Glycolic acid was identified as a significant component (12-14%) of total DOC. Protracted incubation resulted in concentrations of glycolic acid declining in both cases, and glycolic acid added to a culture of Chlorella incubated in the dark was taken up by the alga (~100% within 3 days). Two monosaccharides were identified in cell-free liquors of each algal isolate: fructose and glucose (Chlorella), and mannitol and glucose (Euglena). These were rapidly metabolized by acidophilic heterotrophic bacteria (Acidiphilium and Acidobacterium spp.) though only fructose was utilized by the more fastidious heterotroph "Acidocella aromatica." The significance of algae in promoting the growth of iron- (and sulfate-) reducing heterotrophic acidophiles that are important in remediating mine-impacted waters (MIWs) is discussed.
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Effects of prokaryotic diversity changes on hydrocarbon degradation rates and metal partitioning during bioremediation of contaminated anoxic marine sediments.
Mar. Pollut. Bull.
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We investigated changes of prokaryotic diversity during bioremediation experiments carried out on anoxic marine sediments characterized by high hydrocarbon and metal content. Microcosms containing contaminated sediments were amended with lactose and acetate and incubated in anaerobic conditions up to 60 d at 20 or 35 °C. Microcosms displaying higher degradation efficiency of hydrocarbons were characterized by the dominance of Alphaproteobacteria and Methanosarcinales and the lack of gene sequences belonging to known hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria. Multivariate analyses support the hypothesis that Alphaproteobacteria are important for hydrocarbon degradation and highlight a potential synergistic effect of archaea and bacteria in changes of metal partitioning. Overall, these results point out that the identification of changes in the prokaryotic diversity during bioremediation of contaminated marine sediments is not only important for the improvement of bio-treatment performance towards hydrocarbons, but also for a better comprehension of changes occurring in metal partitioning which affect their mobility and toxicity.
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Biodiversity, metabolism and applications of acidophilic sulfur-metabolizing microorganisms.
Environ. Microbiol.
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Extremely acidic, sulfur-rich environments can be natural, such as solfatara fields in geothermal and volcanic areas, or anthropogenic, such as acid mine drainage waters. Many species of acidophilic bacteria and archaea are known to be involved in redox transformations of sulfur, using elemental sulfur and inorganic sulfur compounds as electron donors or acceptors in reactions involving between one and eight electrons. This minireview describes the nature and origins of acidic, sulfur-rich environments, the biodiversity of sulfur-metabolizing acidophiles, and how sulfur is metabolized and assimilated by acidophiles under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Finally, existing and developing technologies that harness the abilities of sulfur-oxidizing and sulfate-reducing acidophiles to extract and capture metals, and to remediate sulfur-polluted waste waters are outlined.
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Redox Transformations of Iron at Extremely Low pH: Fundamental and Applied Aspects.
Front Microbiol
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Many different species of acidophilic prokaryotes, widely distributed within the domains Bacteria and Archaea, can catalyze the dissimilatory oxidation of ferrous iron or reduction of ferric iron, or can do both. Microbially mediated cycling of iron in extremely acidic environments (pH?
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Geomicrobiology of extremely acidic subsurface environments.
FEMS Microbiol. Ecol.
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Extreme acidophiles (microorganisms with pH optima of < 3) can colonize and exploit subterranean environments, such as abandoned metal sulfide mines, that have the potential for developing widespread or isolated pockets of acidity. Although acidophiles can utilize a wide range of electron donors, inorganic materials (reduced sulfur, ferrous iron, and possibly hydrogen) are often the most abundant sources of energy for acidophiles in the subsurface. The diversity and interactions of acidophilic microbial communities in two abandoned sulfide mineral mines (in Iron Mountain, California, and the Harz mountains in Germany) and a sulfidic cave (Frasissi, Italy) are reviewed. In addition, the contrasting geomicrobiology of two abandoned sulfide mineral mines in north Wales is described. Both are extremely acidic (pH~2) and low-temperature (8-9 °C) sites, but one (Cae Coch) is essentially a dry mine with isolated pockets of water, while the other (Mynydd Parys) contains a vast underground lake that was partially drained several years ago. The microbial communities in these two mines exhibit different relative abundances and often different species of archaea and bacteria. Wooden pit props, submerged in the underground lake, act as a slow-release source of organic carbon in the subterranean Mynydd Parys lake, supporting a microbial community that is more enriched with heterotrophic microorganisms.
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