Iron and carbon metabolism by a mineral-oxidizing Alicyclobacillus-like bacterium
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A novel iron-oxidizing, moderately thermophilic, acidophilic bacterium (strain “GSM”) was isolated from mineral spoil taken from a gold mine in Montana. Biomolecular analysis showed that it was most closely related to Alicyclobacillus tolerans, although the two bacteria differed in some key respects, including the absence (in strain GSM) of ϖ-alicyclic fatty acids and in their chromosomal base compositions. Isolate GSM was able to grow in oxygen-free media using ferric iron as terminal electron acceptor confirming that it was a facultative anaerobe, a trait not previously described in Alicyclobacillus spp.. The acidophile used both organic and inorganic sources of energy and carbon, although growth and iron oxidation by isolate GSM was uncoupled in media that contained both fructose and ferrous iron. Fructose utilization suppressed iron oxidation, and oxidation of ferrous iron occurred only when fructose was depleted. In contrast, fructose catabolism was suppressed when bacteria were harvested while actively oxidizing iron, suggesting that both ferrous iron- and fructose-oxidation are inducible in this acidophile. Isolate GSM accelerated the oxidative dissolution of pyrite in liquid media either free of, or amended with, organic carbon, although redox potentials were significantly different in these media. The potential of this isolate for commercial mineral processing is discussed.
KeywordsAcidophile Alicyclobacillus Firmicute Iron oxidation Iron reduction Mixotroph Pyrite
AY is grateful to the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia for providing and research studentship, and DBJ to the Royal Society, UK, for providing an Industrial Research Fellowship.
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