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Minerals 2015, 5(3), 397-451; https://doi.org/10.3390/min5030397

The Confluence of Heavy Metal Biooxidation and Heavy Metal Resistance: Implications for Bioleaching by Extreme Thermoacidophiles

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, North Carolina State University, EB-1, 911 Partners Way, Raleigh, NC 27695-7905, USA
Present address: Alexion Pharmaceuticals, 352 Knotter Dr, Cheshire, CT 06410-1138, USA.
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Anna H. Kaksonen
Received: 8 May 2015 / Revised: 23 June 2015 / Accepted: 26 June 2015 / Published: 7 July 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Biohydrometallurgy)
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Abstract

Extreme thermoacidophiles (Topt > 65 °C, pHopt < 3.5) inhabit unique environments fraught with challenges, including extremely high temperatures, low pH, as well as high levels of soluble metal species. In fact, certain members of this group thrive by metabolizing heavy metals, creating a dynamic equilibrium between biooxidation to meet bioenergetic needs and mechanisms for tolerating and resisting the toxic effects of solubilized metals. Extremely thermoacidophilic archaea dominate bioleaching operations at elevated temperatures and have been considered for processing certain mineral types (e.g., chalcopyrite), some of which are recalcitrant to their mesophilic counterparts. A key issue to consider, in addition to temperature and pH, is the extent to which solid phase heavy metals are solubilized and the concomitant impact of these mobilized metals on the microorganism’s growth physiology. Here, extreme thermoacidophiles are examined from the perspectives of biodiversity, heavy metal biooxidation, metal resistance mechanisms, microbe-solid interactions, and application of these archaea in biomining operations. View Full-Text
Keywords: extreme thermoacidophiles; bioleaching; heavy metal resistance; heavy metal biooxidation; archaea extreme thermoacidophiles; bioleaching; heavy metal resistance; heavy metal biooxidation; archaea
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Wheaton, G.; Counts, J.; Mukherjee, A.; Kruh, J.; Kelly, R. The Confluence of Heavy Metal Biooxidation and Heavy Metal Resistance: Implications for Bioleaching by Extreme Thermoacidophiles. Minerals 2015, 5, 397-451.

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