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Extremophiles. 2009 Mar;13(2):263-71. doi: 10.1007/s00792-008-0214-2. Epub 2008 Dec 17.

Archaeal and bacterial communities of heavy metal contaminated acidic waters from zinc mine residues in Sepetiba Bay.

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Instituto de Bioquímica Médica, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Bloco D, subsolo, sala 5, Rio de Janeiro 21941-590, Brazil.


Mining of metallic sulfide ore produces acidic water with high metal concentrations that have harmful consequences for aquatic life. To understand the composition and structure of microbial communities in acid mine drainage (AMD) waters associated with Zn mine tailings, molecular diversity of 16S genes was examined using a PCR, cloning, and sequencing approach. A total of 78 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were obtained from samples collected at five different sites in and around mining residues in Sepetiba Bay, Brazil. We analyzed metal concentration, physical, chemical, and microbiological parameters related to prokaryotic diversity in low metal impacted compared to highly polluted environments with Zn at level of gram per liter and Cd-Pb at level of microgram per liter. Application of molecular methods for community structure analyses showed that Archaea and Bacteria groups present a phylogenetic relationship with uncultured environmental organisms. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that bacteria present at the five sites fell into seven known divisions, alpha-Proteobacteria (13.4%), beta-Proteobacteria (16.3%), gamma-Proteobacteria (4.3%), Sphingobacteriales (4.3%), Actinobacteria (3.2%) Acidobacteria (2.1%), Cyanobacteria (11.9%), and unclassified bacteria (44.5%). Almost all archaeal clones were related to uncultivated Crenarchaeota species, which were shared between high impacted and low impacted waters. Rarefaction curves showed that bacterial groups are more diverse than archaeal groups while the overall prokaryotic biodiversity is lower in high metal impacted environments than in less polluted habitats. Knowledge of this microbial community structure will help in understanding prokaryotic diversity, biogeography, and the role of microorganisms in zinc smelting AMD generation and perhaps it may be exploited for environmental remediation procedures in this area.

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