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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2002 Dec;68(12):6013-20.

Isolation and characterization of metal-reducing thermoanaerobacter strains from deep subsurface environments of the Piceance Basin, Colorado.

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Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee 37831-6038, USA.


Five bacterial strains were isolated from anaerobic enrichment cultures that had originated from inoculations with samples collected from the deep subsurface environments of the millions-of-years-old, geologically and hydrologically isolated Piceance Basin in Colorado. Small-subunit rRNA gene-based analyses indicated that all of these bacteria were closely related to Thermoanaerobacter ethanolicus, with similarities of 99.4 to 99.5%. Three isolates (X513, X514, and X561) from the five bacterial strains were used to examine physiological characteristics. These thermophilic bacteria were able to use acetate, glucose, hydrogen, lactate, pyruvate, succinate, and xylose as electron donors while reducing Fe(III), cobalt(III), chromium(VI), manganese(IV), and uranium(VI) at 60 degrees C. One of the isolates (X514) was also able to utilize hydrogen as an electron donor for Fe(III) reduction. These bacteria exhibited diverse mineral precipitation capabilities, including the formation of magnetite (Fe(3)O(4)), siderite (FeCO(3)), rhodochrosite (MnCO(3)), and uraninite (UO(2)). The gas composition of the incubation headspace and the ionic composition of the incubation medium exerted profound influences on the types of minerals formed. The susceptibility of the thermophilic Fe(III)-reducing cultures to metabolic inhibitors specific for ferric reductase, hydrogenase, and electron transport indicated that iron reduction by these bacteria is an enzymatic process.

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