Population Dynamics of a Single-Stage Sulfidogenic Bioreactor Treating Synthetic Zinc-Containing Waste Streams
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Waste streams from industrial processes such as metal smelting or mining contain high concentrations of sulfate and metals with low pH. Dissimilatory sulfate reduction carried out by sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) at low pH can combine sulfate reduction with metal-sulfide precipitation and thus open possibilities for selective metal recovery. This study investigates the microbial diversity and population changes of a single-stage sulfidogenic gas-lift bioreactor treating synthetic zinc-rich waste water at pH 5.5 by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of 16S rRNA gene fragments and quantitative polymerase chain reaction. The results indicate the presence of a diverse range of phylogenetic groups with the predominant microbial populations belonging to the Desulfovibrionaceae from δ-Proteobacteria. Desulfovibrio desulfuricans-like populations were the most abundant among the SRB during the three stable phases of varying sulfide and zinc concentrations and increased from 13% to 54% of the total bacterial populations over time. The second largest group was Desulfovibrio marrakechensis-like SRB that increased from 1% to about 10% with decreasing sulfide concentrations. Desulfovibrio aminophilus-like populations were the only SRB to decrease in numbers with decreasing sulfide concentrations. However, their population was <1% of the total bacterial population in the reactor at all analyzed time points. The number of dissimilatory sulfate reductase (DsrA) gene copies per number of SRB cells decreased from 3.5 to 2 DsrA copies when the sulfide concentration was reduced, suggesting that the cells' sulfate-reducing capacity was also lowered. This study has identified the species present in a single-stage sulfidogenic bioreactor treating zinc-rich wastewater at low pH and provides insights into the microbial ecology of this biotechnological process.
KeywordsSulfide Concentration Desulfovibrio Olive Mill Wastewater Total Bacterial Population Dissimilatory Sulfate Reduction
This work was carried out in the frame of European Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Development “BioMinE” project (European contract NMP1-CT-500329-1).
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