, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 9–19 | Cite as

Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans, sp. nov.; facultatively anaerobic, psychrotolerant iron-, and sulfur-oxidizing acidophiles isolated from metal mine-impacted environments

  • Kevin B. Hallberg
  • Elena González-Toril
  • D. Barrie Johnson
Original Paper


Phenotypic and genotypic analysis was carried out on four iron- and sulfur-oxidizing acidophilic bacteria (the “NO-37 group”) isolated from different parts of the world. 16S rRNA phylogeny showed that they are highly related to each other, but are less related to the type strain of Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans. The NO-37 group isolates are obligate chemolithoautotrophs, facultative anaerobes, diazotrophic, and psychrotolerant. They are less tolerant of extremely low pH, and in contrast to At. ferrooxidans T, all of the NO-37 group isolates are motile. The GC contents of genomic DNA of the NO-37 group isolates were around 56 mol% and the DNA–DNA hybridization value between genomic DNA of isolate NO-37 and At. ferrooxidans T was 37%. It also appears that the bacteria of the NO-37 group have a different biochemical mechanism for oxidizing ferrous iron than At. ferrooxidans T; the gene coding for the archetypal rusticyanin (RusA) was not detected in any of the NO-37 group isolates, rather a gene coding for a homologous protein (RusB) was amplified from three of the four novel isolates. Isolates of the NO-37 group clearly belong to a species that is different to those already recognized in the genus Acidithiobacillus, for which the name Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans is proposed.


Acid mine drainage Acidophile Acidithiobacillus Bioleaching Biomining Iron Pyrite Psychrotolerant bacteria Sulfur 



This study was carried out in the frame of BioMinE Project, supported by the European Commission under the Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Development (Contract NMP1-CT-500329-1). We wish to thank our various partners on the project for their contributions to the work reported in this paper. The authors would also like to thank Professor Jean Euzéby for his expert advice on bacterial nomenclature, Dr. Eleanor Jameson for conducting experiments on anaerobic growth of At. ferrivorans, and Mr. Pedro Galleguillos and Dr. Tadayoshi Kanao for measurement of specific iron oxidation rates. D.B.J. is grateful to the Royal Society (UK) for the award of an Industrial Fellowship.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin B. Hallberg
    • 1
  • Elena González-Toril
    • 2
  • D. Barrie Johnson
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biological Sciences, College of Natural SciencesBangor UniversityBangorUK
  2. 2.Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA)MadridSpain

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