Microbial Ecology

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 219–232 | Cite as

The community structure of sessile heterotrophic bacteria stressed by acid mine drainage

  • Aaron L. Mills
  • Lawrence M. Mallory


Microbial communities that developed on glass slides suspended in acid-polluted (pH=2.9) and nonpolluted (pH=6.5) but otherwise similar waters showed evidence of stress when suspended at the opposite station. Glucose incorporation was inhibited in both translocated communities, but the inhibition was not as severe and recovery of activity was faster for the acid-developed community as compared to the circumneutral community. The communities contained a substantially different set of members with little overlap. The range of pH values at which the members of the acid-developed community could function suggested that the members of that community were generalists, as opposed to narrowly constrained members of the community from the circumneutral station. Based on the proportion of test characters that received positive responses, the organisms from the acidic site were more general in their abilities (47.6% positive) as compared with the neutral counterparts (18.7% positive). The results support the concept that communities developed in extreme environments tend to be generalists, whereas those from mesic environments, due to the higher levels of competition present, tend to be specialists. Furthermore, the study of microbial communities in dynamic systems such as streams and reservoir inflows is facilitated by the use of solid surfaces which allow an assemblage of nontransient microbes to develop.


Microbial Community Community Structure Microbe Acidic Site Solid Surface 
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.
    Baker KH, Mills AL (1982) Determination of the number of respiringThiobacillus ferrooxidans cells in water samples by using combined fluorescent antibody-2-(p-iodophenyl)-3-(p-nitrophenyl)-5-phenyltetrazolium chloride staining. Appl Environ Microbiol 43:338–344Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Carpenter JM, Odum WE, Mills AL (1983) Decomposition of leaf litter in a lake receiving acid mine drainage. Oikos 41:165–172Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Dugan PR, MacMillan CB, Pfister RM (1970) Aerobic heterotrophic bacteria indigenous to pH 2.8 acid mine water: predominant slime-producing bacteria in acid streamers. J Bacteriol 101:982–988PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Fletcher M (1979) A microautoradiographic study of the activity of attached and free-living bacteria. Arch Microbiol 43:122–127Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Fletcher M, Marshall KC (1982) Are solid surfaces of ecological significance to aquatic bacteria? In: Marshall KC (ed) Advances in microbial ecology, Vol. 6. Plenum Press, New York, pp 199–236Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Geesey GG, Mutch R, Costerton JW, Green RB (1978) Sessile bacteria: an important component of the microbial population in small mountain streams. Limnol Oceanogr 23:1214–1223Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Guthrie RK, Cherry DS, Singleton FL (1978) Responses of heterotrophic bacterial populations to pH changes in coal ash effluent. Water Resour Bull 14:803–808Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Haack TK, McFeters GA (1982) Microbial dynamics of an epilithic mat community in a high alpine stream. Appl Environ Microbiol 43:702–707Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Harrison AP Jr (1978) Microbial succession and mineral leaching in an artificial coal spoil. Appl Environ Microbiol 36:861–869PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Herlihy AT, Mills AL (1985) Sulfate reduction in freshwater sediments receiving acid mine drainage. Appl Environ Microbiol 49:179–186Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Heukelekian H, Heller A (1940) Relationship between food concentration and surface for bacterial growth. J Bacteriol 40:547–558Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Hobbie JE, Daley RS, Jasper S (1977) Use of Nuclepore filters for counting bacteria by fluorescence microscopy. Appl Environ Microbiol 33:1225–1228PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hugh R, Liefson E (1953) The taxonomic significance of fermentative versus oxidative metabolism of carbohydrates by various gram-negative bacteria. J Bacteriol 66:24–26PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kaper JB, Mills AL, Colwell RR (1978) Evaluation of the accuracy and precision of enumerating aerobic heterotrophs in water samples by the spread plate method. Appl Environ Microbiol 35:756–761Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kirchman D, Mitchell R (1982) Contribution of particle-bound bacteria to total microheterotrophic activity in five ponds and two marshes. Appl Environ Microbiol 43:200–209Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kjelleberg S, Humphrey BA, Marshall KC (1982) Effect of interfaces on small, starved marine bacteria. Appl Environ Microbiol 43:1166–1172Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ladd TI, Costerton JW, Geesey GG (1978) Determination of the heterotrophic activity of epilithic microbial populations. In: Costerton JW, Colwell RR (eds) Native aquatic bacteria: enumeration, activity, and ecology, ASTM STP 695, American Society for Testing and Materials, Philadelphia, pp 180–195Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Lock MA, Wallace RR, Costerton JW, Ventullo RM, Charlton SE (1984) River epilithon: toward a structural-functional model. Oikos 42:10–22Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Marshall KC (1976) Interfaces in microbial ecology. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MassachusettsGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    McMahon RF, Hunter RD, Russell-Hunter WD (1974) Variation in aufwuchs at six freshwater habitats in terms of carbon biomass and carbon: nitrogen ratio. Hydrobiologia 45:391–404Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Millar WN (1973) Heterotrophic bacteria population in acid coal mine water:Flavobacterium acidurans sp. n. Int J Syst Bacteriol 23:142–150Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Mills AL (1985) Acid mine waste drainage: microbial impact on the recovery of soil and water ecosystems. In: Tate RL, Klein D (eds) Soil reclamation processes. Marcel Dekker, New York, pp 35–81Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Mills AL, Maubrey R (1981) The effect of mineral composition on bacterial attachment to submerged rock surfaces. Microb Ecol 7:315–322Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Mills AL, Wassel RA (1980) Aspects of measurement of diversity for microbial communities. Appl Environ Microbiol 40:578–586Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Sheldon SP, Taylor MK (1982) Community photosynthesis and respiration in experimental streams. Hydrobiologia 87:3–10Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Sneath PHA, Sokal RR (1973) Numerical taxonomy. WH Freeman, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Wassel RA, Mills AL (1983) Changes in water and sediment bacterial community structure in a lake receiving acid mine drainage. Microb Ecol 9:155–169Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Wichlacz PL, Unz RF (1981) Acidophilic, heterotrophic bacteria of acid mine water. Appl Environ Microbiol 41:1254–1261Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Zobell CE (1943) The effect of solid surfaces on bacterial activity. J Bacteriol 46:38–59Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aaron L. Mills
    • 1
  • Lawrence M. Mallory
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyMemphis State CollegeMemphisUSA

Personalised recommendations