Analysis of community composition during moderately thermophilic bioleaching of pyrite, arsenical pyrite, and chalcopyrite

Dopson, M., Lindström, E.B.
Microbial Ecology


An analysis of the community composition of three previously undefined mixed cultures of moderately thermophilic bioleaching bacteria grown at 45°C on pyrite, arsenical pyrite, and chalcopyrite has been carried out. The bacterial species present were identified by comparative sequence analysis of the 16S rRNA gene isolated from the bioleaching vessels and analyzed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, cloning, and sequencing. The mixed cultures leached all three minerals, as shown by the increase in iron released from the mineral concentrates. The species identified from the mixed cultures during bioleaching of pyrite, arsenical pyrite, and chalcopyrite were clones closely related to Acidithiobacillus caldus C-SH12, Sulfobacillus thermosulfidooxidans AT-1, "Sulfobacillus montserratensis" L15, and an uncultured thermal soil bacterium YNP. It was also found that the same mixed culture maintained for over a year on chalcopyrite mineral selected approximately the same consortia of bacteria as the original mixed culture grown on chalcopyrite.