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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2004 Jun 15;235(2):221-8.

Macrofilamentous microbial communities in the metal-rich and acidic River Tinto, Spain.

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Departamento de Ecología, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain.


A novel type of macroscopic microbial community consisting of large dendritic filaments (up to 1.5 m) in a pH 2.0 dam of the River Tinto (South-western Spain) is described. The combined use of 16S rRNA-gene surveys and fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH) suggested that gamma-proteobacteria and a relative large diversity of alpha-proteobacteria dominated these structures. beta-Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria and Firmicutes were also detected. Whereas acidophilic bacteria of the genera Acidithiobacillus, Leptospirillum and Acidiphilium, and archaea belonging to the Thermoplasmatales dominate mine acid drainage waters and streamers (riverbed filamentous biofilms), none of the lineages identified in this study affiliate to typical acid mine drainage acidophilic bacteria. Bacteria of the Tinto macrofilaments might be heterotrophic, and could be feeding on the organic matter entrapped in the filamentous structure.

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