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Life 2013, 3(1), 189-210; doi:10.3390/life3010189
Article

Evolution of Microbial “Streamer” Growths in an Acidic, Metal-Contaminated Stream Draining an Abandoned Underground Copper Mine

1
, 2
, 3, 4
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 and 6,*
Received: 29 November 2012; in revised form: 22 January 2013 / Accepted: 23 January 2013 / Published: 7 February 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extremophiles and Extreme Environments)
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Abstract: A nine year study was carried out on the evolution of macroscopic “acid streamer” growths in acidic, metal-rich mine water from the point of construction of a new channel to drain an abandoned underground copper mine. The new channel became rapidly colonized by acidophilic bacteria: two species of autotrophic iron-oxidizers (Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans and “Ferrovum myxofaciens”) and a heterotrophic iron-oxidizer (a novel genus/species with the proposed name “Acidithrix ferrooxidans”). The same bacteria dominated the acid streamer communities for the entire nine year period, with the autotrophic species accounting for ~80% of the micro-organisms in the streamer growths (as determined by terminal restriction enzyme fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis). Biodiversity of the acid streamers became somewhat greater in time, and included species of heterotrophic acidophiles that reduce ferric iron (Acidiphilium, Acidobacterium, Acidocella and gammaproteobacterium WJ2) and other autotrophic iron-oxidizers (Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans and Leptospirillum ferrooxidans). The diversity of archaea in the acid streamers was far more limited; relatively few clones were obtained, all of which were very distantly related to known species of euryarchaeotes. Some differences were apparent between the acid streamer community and planktonic-phase bacteria. This study has provided unique insights into the evolution of an extremophilic microbial community, and identified several novel species of acidophilic prokaryotes.
Keywords: Acidithiobacillus; acid mine drainage (AMD); acid streamers; Actinobacteria; Ferrovum; iron oxidation; microbial communities Acidithiobacillus; acid mine drainage (AMD); acid streamers; Actinobacteria; Ferrovum; iron oxidation; microbial communities
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.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Kay, C.M.; Rowe, O.F.; Rocchetti, L.; Coupland, K.; Hallberg, K.B.; Johnson, D.B. Evolution of Microbial “Streamer” Growths in an Acidic, Metal-Contaminated Stream Draining an Abandoned Underground Copper Mine. Life 2013, 3, 189-210.

AMA Style

Kay CM, Rowe OF, Rocchetti L, Coupland K, Hallberg KB, Johnson DB. Evolution of Microbial “Streamer” Growths in an Acidic, Metal-Contaminated Stream Draining an Abandoned Underground Copper Mine. Life. 2013; 3(1):189-210.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kay, Catherine M.; Rowe, Owen F.; Rocchetti, Laura; Coupland, Kris; Hallberg, Kevin B.; Johnson, D. B. 2013. "Evolution of Microbial “Streamer” Growths in an Acidic, Metal-Contaminated Stream Draining an Abandoned Underground Copper Mine." Life 3, no. 1: 189-210.



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