Dynamic of active microorganisms inhabiting a bioleaching industrial heap of low-grade copper sulfide ore monitored by real-time PCR and oligonucleotide prokaryotic acidophile microarray.

Microbial biotechnology

PubMedID: 21255296

Remonsellez F, Galleguillos F, Moreno-Paz M, Parro V, Acosta M, Demergasso C. Dynamic of active microorganisms inhabiting a bioleaching industrial heap of low-grade copper sulfide ore monitored by real-time PCR and oligonucleotide prokaryotic acidophile microarray. Microb Biotechnol. 2009;2(6):613-24.
The bioleaching of metal sulfide has developed into a very important industrial process and understanding the microbial dynamic is key to advancing commercial bioleaching operations. Here we report the first quantitative description of the dynamic of active communities in an industrial bioleaching heap. Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans was the most abundant during the first part of the leaching cycle, while the abundance of Leptospirillum ferriphilum and Ferroplasma acidiphilum increased with age of the heap. Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans kept constant throughout the leaching cycle, and Firmicutes group showed a low and a patchy distribution in the heap. The Acidiphilium-like bacteria reached their highest abundance corresponding to the amount of autotrophs. The active microorganisms in the leaching system were determined using two RNA-based sensitive techniques. In most cases, the 16S rRNA copy numbers of At. ferrooxidans, L. ferriphilum, At. thiooxidans and F. acidiphilum, was concomitant with the DNA copy numbers, whereas Acidiphilium-like bacteria and some Firmicutes members did not show a clear correlation between 16S rRNA accumulation and DNA copy numbers. However, the prokaryotic acidophile microarray (PAM) analysis showed active members of Alphaproteobacteria in all samples and of Sulfobacillus genus in older ones. Also, new active groups such as Actinobacteria and Acidobacterium genus were detected by PAM. THE RESULTS
suggest that changes during the leaching cycle in chemical and physical conditions, such as pH and Fe(3+)/Fe(2+) ion rate, are primary factors shaping the microbial dynamic in the heap.