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Microb Ecol. 2009 May;57(4):701-17. doi: 10.1007/s00248-009-9505-0. Epub 2009 Mar 11.

Importance of different physiological groups of iron reducing microorganisms in an acidic mining lake remediation experiment.

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1
Department of Lake Research, UFZ-Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Br├╝ckstr. 3a, 39114, Magdeburg, Germany.

Abstract

Iron- and sulfate-reducing microorganisms play an important role for alkalinity-generating processes in mining lakes with low pH. In the acidic mining lake 111 in Lusatia, Germany, a passive in situ remediation method was tested in a large scale experiment, in which microbial iron and sulfate reduction are stimulated by addition of Carbokalk (a mixture of the nonsugar compounds of sugar beets and lime) and straw. The treated surface sediment consisted of three layers of different pH and geochemical composition. The top layer was acidic and rich in Fe(III), the second and third layer both showed moderately acidic to circum-neutral pH values, but only the second was rich in organics, strongly reduced and sulfidic. Aim of the study was to elucidate the relative importance of neutrophilic heterotrophic, acidophilic heterotrophic, and acidophilic autotrophic iron-reducing microorganisms in each of the three layers. In order to distinguish between them, the effect of their respective characteristic electron donors acetate, glucose, and elemental sulfur on potential iron reduction rates was investigated. Limitation of iron reduction by the availability of Fe(III) was revealed by the addition of Fe(OH)(3). The three groups of iron-reducing microorganisms were quantified by most probable number (MPN) technique and their community composition was analyzed by cloning and sequencing of 16S rRNA genes. In the acidic surface layer, none of the three electron donors stimulated iron reduction; acetate even had an inhibiting effect. In agreement with this, no decrease of the added electron donors was observed. Iron reduction rates were low in comparison to the other layers. Iron reduction in layers 2 and 3 was enhanced by glucose and acetate, accompanied by a decrease of these electron donors. Addition of elemental sulfur did not enhance iron reduction in either layer. Layer 2 exhibited the highest iron reduction rate (4.08 mmol dm(-3) d(-1)) and the highest cell numbers in MPN media. In MPN enrichments from all layers, Acidithiobacillus-like sequences were frequent. In addition to these, sequences related to Fulvimonas and Clostridium dominated in layer 1. MPN enrichments of layer 2 were diverse, containing Rhodocyclaceae-related sequences and surprisingly low numbers of Geobacteraceae. In layer 3, Sulfobacillus and Trichococcus spp. were also important. It was concluded that in the surface layer mainly acidophilic, probably autotrophic and heterotrophic, iron reducers were active, whereas in layers 2 and 3 mainly neutrophilic heterotrophs were important for iron reduction. These differ from well-studied Fe(III) reducers in other environments, so they deserve further study. The potential for acid-producing sulfur-driven Fe(III) reduction seemed not to be critical for in situ remediation.

PMID:
19277769
DOI:
10.1007/s00248-009-9505-0
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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