Microbial Ecology

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 75–86 | Cite as

Grazing of acidophilic bacteria by a flagellated protozoan

  • Stephen McGinness
  • D. Barrie Johnson


A biflagellated protozoan was isolated from an acidic drainage stream located inside a disused pyrite mine. The stream contained copious amounts of “acid streamer” bacterial growths, and the flagellate was observed in situ apparently grazing the streamer bacteria. The protozoan was obligately acidophilic, growing between pH 1.8 and 4.5, but not at pH 1.6 or 5.0, with optimum growth between pH 3 and 4. It was highly sensitive to copper, molybdenum, silver, and uranium, but tolerated ferrous and ferric iron up to 50 and 25 mM, respectively. In the laboratory, the protozoan was found to graze a range of acidophilic bacteria, including the chemolithotrophs Thiobacillus ferrooxidans, Leptospirillum ferrooxidans, and the heterotroph Acidiphilium cryptum. Thiobacillus thiooxidans and Thiobacillus acidophilus were not grazed. Filamentous growth of certain acidophiles afforded some protection against being grazed by the flagellate. In mixed cultures of T. ferrooxidans and L. ferrooxidans, the protozoan isolate displayed preferential grazing of the former. The possibility of using acidophilic protozoa as a means of controlling bacteria responsible for the production of acid mine drainage is discussed.


Uranium Pyrite Acid Mine Drainage Ferric Iron Thiobacillus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Cooke WB (1966) The occurrence of fungi in acid mine drainage. Proc Ind Waste Conf 21: 258–274.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ehrlich HL (1963) Microorganisms in acid drainage from a copper mine. J Bacteriol 86:351–352.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Geller A (1983) Growth of bacteria in inorganic medium at different levels of airbourne organic substrates. Appl Environ Microbiol 46:1258–1262.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Harrison AP Jr (1984) The acidophilic thiobacilli and other acidophilic bacteria that share their habitat. Ann Rev Microbiol 38:265–292.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Johnson DB (1991) Diversity of microbial life in highly acidic, mesophilic environments. In: Berthelin L (ed) Diversity of environmental biogeochemistry. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 225–238.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Johnson DB, Kelso WI (1981) Extracellular polymers of acid streamers from pyritic mines. Environ Pollut 24:291–301.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Johnson DB, McGinness S (1991a) Ferric iron reduction by acidophilic heterotrophic bacteria. Appl Environ Microbiol 57:207–211.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Johnson DB, McGinness S (1991b) A highly efficient and universal solid medium for growing mesophilic and moderately thermophilic iron-oxidizing, acidophilic bacteria. J Microbiol Meth 13:113–122.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Johnson DB, Kelso WI, Jenkins DA (1979) Bacterial streamer growth in a disused pyrite mine. Environ Pollut 18:107–118.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Johnson DB, Macvicar JHM, Rolfe S (1987) A new solid medium for the isolation and enumeration of Thiobacillus ferrooxidans and acidophilic heterotrophic bacteria. J Microbiol Meth 7:9–18.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Joseph JM (1953) Microbiological study of acid mine waters: Preliminary report. Ohio J Sci 53:123–127.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Lackey JB (1938) The flora and fauna of surface water polluted by acid mine drainage. Public Health Rep 53:1499–1507.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Lee JJ, Humer SH, Bovee EC (1985) An illustrated guide to the protozoa. Allen Press, Lawrence, Kansas.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Lwoff A (1941) Limites de concentration en ions H et OH compatibles avec le developpement in vitro du flagellate Polytomella cœca. Ann Inst Pasteur 66:407–416.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Olem H, Bell TL, Longaker, JJ (1983) Prevention of acid drainage from stored coal. J Energy Eng 109:103–112.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Sleigh MA (1989) Protozoa and other protists. 2nd ed. Edward Arnold, London.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen McGinness
    • 1
  • D. Barrie Johnson
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of WalesBangor, GwyneddUK

Personalised recommendations