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Sci Total Environ. 2005 Feb 1;338(1-2):53-66.

Microbiology of a wetland ecosystem constructed to remediate mine drainage from a heavy metal mine.

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School of Biological Sciences, Memorial Building, Deiniol Road, Bangor, LL57 2UW, UK.


A pilot passive treatment plant (PPTP) was constructed to evaluate the potential of a composite wetland system to remediate acidic, metal-rich water draining the former Wheal Jane tin, in Cornwall, England. The treatment plant consists of three separate and controllable composite systems, each of which comprises a series of aerobic wetlands for iron oxidation and precipitation, a compost bioreactor for removing chalcophilic metals and to generate alkalinity, and rock filter ponds for removing soluble manganese and organic carbon. To understand the roles of microorganisms in remediating acid mine drainage (AMD) in constructed wetland ecosystems, populations of different groups of cultivatable acidophilic microbes in the various components of the Wheal Jane PPTP were enumerated over a 30-month period. Initially, moderately acidophilic iron-oxidising bacteria (related to Halothiobacillus neapolitanus) were found to be the major cultivatable microorganisms present in the untreated AMD, though later heterotrophic acidophiles emerged as the dominant group, on a numerical basis. Culturable microbes in the surface waters and sediments of the aerobic wetlands were similarly dominated by heterotrophic acidophiles, though both moderately and extremely acidophilic iron-oxidising bacteria were also present in significant numbers. The dominant microbial isolate in waters draining the anaerobic compost bioreactors was an iron- and sulfur-oxidising moderate acidophile that was closely related to Thiomonas intermedia. The acidophiles enumerated at the Wheal Jane PPTP accounted for 1% to 25% of the total microbial population. Phylogenetic analysis of 14 isolates from various components of the Wheal Jane PPTP showed that, whilst many of these bacteria were commonly encountered acidophiles, some of these had not been previously encountered in AMD and AMD-impacted environments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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