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Quantification of Tinto River Sediment Microbial Communities: Importance of Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria and Their Role in Attenuating Acid Mine Drainage

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Knittel,  K.
Department of Molecular Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Amann,  R.
Department of Molecular Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Knittel12.pdf
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Citation

Sanchez-Andrea, I., Knittel, K., Amann, R., Amils, R., & Sanz, J. L. (2012). Quantification of Tinto River Sediment Microbial Communities: Importance of Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria and Their Role in Attenuating Acid Mine Drainage. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 78(13), 4638-4645.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-C7FD-2
Abstract
Tinto River (Huelva, Spain) is a natural acidic rock drainage (ARD) environment produced by the bio-oxidation of metallic sulfides from the Iberian Pyritic Belt. This study quantified the abundance of diverse microbial populations inhabiting ARD-related sediments from two physicochemically contrasting sampling sites (SN and JL dams). Depth profiles of total cell numbers differed greatly between the two sites yet were consistent in decreasing sharply at greater depths. Although catalyzed reporter deposition fluorescence in situ hybridization with domain-specific probes showed that Bacteria (>98%) dominated over Archaea (<2%) at both sites, important differences were detected at the class and genus levels, reflecting differences in pH, redox potential, and heavy metal concentrations. At SN, where the pH and redox potential are similar to that of the water column (pH 2.5 and +400 mV), the most abundant organisms were identified as iron-reducing bacteria: Acidithiobacillus spp. and Acidiphilium spp., probably related to the higher iron solubility at low pH. At the JL dam, characterized by a banded sediment with higher pH (4.2 to 6.2), more reducing redox potential (−210 mV to 50 mV), and a lower solubility of iron, members of sulfate-reducing genera Syntrophobacter, Desulfosporosinus, and Desulfurella were dominant. The latter was quantified with a newly designed CARD-FISH probe. In layers where sulfate-reducing bacteria were abundant, pH was higher and redox potential and levels of dissolved metals and iron were lower. These results suggest that the attenuation of ARD characteristics is biologically driven by sulfate reducers and the consequent precipitation of metals and iron as sulfides.