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Environ Microbiol. 2008 Aug;10(8):2087-97. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2008.01630.x. Epub 2008 Apr 22.

Microbial community analysis of two field-scale sulfate-reducing bioreactors treating mine drainage.

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Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.


The microbial communities of two field-scale pilot sulfate-reducing bioreactors treating acid mine drainage (AMD), Luttrell and Peerless Jenny King (PJK), were compared using biomolecular tools and multivariate statistical analyses. The two bioreactors were well suited for this study because their geographic locations and substrate compositions were similar while the characteristics of influent AMD, configuration and degree of exposure to oxygen were distinct. The two bioreactor communities were found to be functionally similar, including cellulose degraders, fermenters and sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB). Significant differences were found between the two bioreactors in phylogenetic comparisons of cloned 16S rRNA genes and adenosine 5'-phosphosulfate reductase (apsA) genes. The apsA gene clones from the Luttrell bioreactor were dominated by uncultured SRB most closely related to Desulfovibrio spp., while those of the PJK bioreactor were dominated by Thiobacillus spp. The fraction of the SRB genus Desulfovibrio was also higher at Luttrell than at PJK as determined by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis. Oxygen exposure at PJK is hypothesized to be the primary cause of these differences. This study is the first rigorous phylogenetic investigation of field-scale bioreactors treating AMD and the first reported application of multivariate statistical analysis of remediation system microbial communities applying UniFrac software.

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