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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1999 Feb;65(2):585-90.

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

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1
School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor, LL57 2UW, United Kingdom.

Abstract

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.

PMID:
9925586
PMCID:
PMC91065
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