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Bacterial community composition characterization of a lead-contaminated Microcoleus sp. consortium

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A Microcoleus sp. consortium, obtained from the Ebro delta microbial mat, was maintained under different conditions including uncontaminated, lead-contaminated, and acidic conditions.

Materials and methods

Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism and 16S rRNA gene library analyses were performed in order to determine the effect of lead and culture conditions on the Microcoleus sp. consortium.


The bacterial composition inside the consortium revealed low diversity and the presence of specific terminal-restriction fragments under lead conditions. 16S rRNA gene library analyses showed that members of the consortium were affiliated to the Alpha, Beta, and Gammaproteobacteria and Cyanobacteria. Sequences closely related to Achromobacter spp., Alcaligenes faecalis, and Thiobacillus species were exclusively found under lead conditions while sequences related to Geitlerinema sp., a cyanobacterium belonging to the Oscillatoriales, were not found in presence of lead.


This result showed a strong lead selection of the bacterial members present in the Microcoleus sp. consortium. Several of the 16S rRNA sequences were affiliated to nitrogen-fixing microorganisms including members of the Rhizobiaceae and the Sphingomonadaceae. Additionally, confocal laser scanning microscopy and scanning and transmission electron microscopy showed that under lead-contaminated condition Microcoleus sp. cells were grouped and the number of electrodense intracytoplasmic inclusions was increased.

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This research was supported by the following grants: DGICYT (CGL2008-01891/BOS), FONCICYT (000000000095887) and the Aquitaine Region council through the CTP program (20074380409-12). We express our thanks to the staff of the Servei de Microscòpia at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and to J. Maldonado for technical assistance. We also thank Marc Alamany and Francesc Fornells from Ecología Portuaria S. L. (Spain) for their valuable comments on the manuscript. Finally, we acknowledge Pilar Jarque and Cristina Sosa for their help.

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Correspondence to Robert Duran.

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Responsible editor: Elena Maestri

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Giloteaux, L., Solé, A., Esteve, I. et al. Bacterial community composition characterization of a lead-contaminated Microcoleus sp. consortium. Environ Sci Pollut Res 18, 1147–1159 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-010-0432-x

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  • Microcoleus
  • Lead
  • T-RFLP
  • 16S rRNA
  • SEM
  • TEM
  • CSLM