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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007 Feb;73(3):971-80. Epub 2006 Dec 1.

Succession of sulfur-oxidizing bacteria in the microbial community on corroding concrete in sewer systems.

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  • 1Department of Urban and Environmental Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering, Hokkaido University, North-13, West-8, Kita-ku, Sapporo 060-8628, Japan. sokabe@eng.hokudai.ac.jp


Microbially induced concrete corrosion (MICC) in sewer systems has been a serious problem for a long time. A better understanding of the succession of microbial community members responsible for the production of sulfuric acid is essential for the efficient control of MICC. In this study, the succession of sulfur-oxidizing bacteria (SOB) in the bacterial community on corroding concrete in a sewer system in situ was investigated over 1 year by culture-independent 16S rRNA gene-based molecular techniques. Results revealed that at least six phylotypes of SOB species were involved in the MICC process, and the predominant SOB species shifted in the following order: Thiothrix sp., Thiobacillus plumbophilus, Thiomonas intermedia, Halothiobacillus neapolitanus, Acidiphilium acidophilum, and Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans. A. thiooxidans, a hyperacidophilic SOB, was the most dominant (accounting for 70% of EUB338-mixed probe-hybridized cells) in the heavily corroded concrete after 1 year. This succession of SOB species could be dependent on the pH of the concrete surface as well as on trophic properties (e.g., autotrophic or mixotrophic) and on the ability of the SOB to utilize different sulfur compounds (e.g., H2S, S0, and S2O3(2-)). In addition, diverse heterotrophic bacterial species (e.g., halo-tolerant, neutrophilic, and acidophilic bacteria) were associated with these SOB. The microbial succession of these microorganisms was involved in the colonization of the concrete and the production of sulfuric acid. Furthermore, the vertical distribution of microbial community members revealed that A. thiooxidans was the most dominant throughout the heavily corroded concrete (gypsum) layer and that A. thiooxidans was most abundant at the highest surface (1.5-mm) layer and decreased logarithmically with depth because of oxygen and H2S transport limitations. This suggested that the production of sulfuric acid by A. thiooxidans occurred mainly on the concrete surface and the sulfuric acid produced penetrated through the corroded concrete layer and reacted with the sound concrete below.

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