Effects of pyrite and sphalerite on population compositions, dynamics and copper extraction efficiency in chalcopyrite bioleaching process
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This study used an artificial microbial community with four known moderately thermophilic acidophiles (three bacteria including Acidithiobacillus caldus S1, Sulfobacillus thermosulfidooxidans ST and Leptospirillum ferriphilum YSK, and one archaea, Ferroplasma thermophilum L1) to explore the variation of microbial community structure, composition, dynamics and function (e.g., copper extraction efficiency) in chalcopyrite bioleaching (C) systems with additions of pyrite (CP) or sphalerite (CS). The community compositions and dynamics in the solution and on the ore surface were investigated by real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR). The results showed that the addition of pyrite or sphalerite changed the microbial community composition and dynamics dramatically during the chalcopyrite bioleaching process. For example, A. caldus (above 60%) was the dominant species at the initial stage in three groups, and at the middle stage, still dominated C group (above 70%), but it was replaced by L. ferriphilum (above 60%) in CP and CS groups; at the final stage, L. ferriphilum dominated C group, while F. thermophilum dominated CP group on the ore surface. Furthermore, the additions of pyrite or sphalerite both made the increase of redox potential (ORP) and the concentrations of Fe3+ and H+, which would affect the microbial community compositions and copper extraction efficiency. Additionally, pyrite could enhance copper extraction efficiency (e.g., improving around 13.2% on day 6) during chalcopyrite bioleaching; on the contrary, sphalerite restrained it.
KeywordsArtificial microbial community Chalcopyrite bioleaching Real-time PCR
The study was supported by the National Nature Science Foundation of China (No. 31570113 and No. 41573072), and Graduate Student Research Innovation Project in Central South University (No. 2016zzts105). Thanks to prof. Huaqun Yin and Xueduan Liu who helped to design this study and contributed material essential for the study, to Weiling Dong, Liyuan Ma, Xiaodong Hao, Yili Liang, Yabin Gu and Zhen Xu for their help to finish this experiment, and to Jiaojiao Niu and Xian Zhang for data analysis.
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