Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Appl Environ Microbiol. 1999 Feb;65(2):585-90.

Leaching of pyrite by acidophilic heterotrophic iron-oxidizing bacteria in pure and mixed cultures.

Author information

School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor, LL57 2UW, United Kingdom.


Seven strains of heterotrophic iron-oxidizing acidophilic bacteria were examined to determine their abilities to promote oxidative dissolution of pyrite (FeS2) when they were grown in pure cultures and in mixed cultures with sulfur-oxidizing Thiobacillus spp. Only one of the isolates (strain T-24) oxidized pyrite when it was grown in pyrite-basal salts medium. However, when pyrite-containing cultures were supplemented with 0.02% (wt/vol) yeast extract, most of the isolates oxidized pyrite, and one (strain T-24) promoted rates of mineral dissolution similar to the rates observed with the iron-oxidizing autotroph Thiobacillus ferrooxidans. Pyrite oxidation by another isolate (strain T-21) occurred in cultures containing between 0.005 and 0.05% (wt/vol) yeast extract but was completely inhibited in cultures containing 0.5% yeast extract. Ferrous iron was also needed for mineral dissolution by the iron-oxidizing heterotrophs, indicating that these organisms oxidize pyrite via the "indirect" mechanism. Mixed cultures of three isolates (strains T-21, T-23, and T-24) and the sulfur-oxidizing autotroph Thiobacillus thiooxidans promoted pyrite dissolution; since neither strains T-21 and T-23 nor T. thiooxidans could oxidize this mineral in yeast extract-free media, this was a novel example of bacterial synergism. Mixed cultures of strains T-21 and T-23 and the sulfur-oxidizing mixotroph Thiobacillus acidophilus also oxidized pyrite but to a lesser extent than did mixed cultures containing T. thiooxidans. Pyrite leaching by strain T-23 grown in an organic compound-rich medium and incubated either shaken or unshaken was also assessed. The potential environmental significance of iron-oxidizing heterotrophs in accelerating pyrite oxidation is discussed.

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center