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Prokaryotic and eukaryotic community structure affected by the presence of an acid mine drainage from an abandoned gold mine


The acid mine drainage that originates in the abandoned gold mine in San Luis, Argentina, is released into La Carolina stream. The aim of this study was to determine the influence of this mine drainage on the physicochemical parameters of the area studied and on both prokaryotic and eukaryotic community structure. In addition, specific relationships between microbial taxonomic groups and physicochemical parameters were established. The drainage that flows into La Carolina stream acidifies the stream and increases its sulfate, Zn, Cd and Te concentrations. Microbial analysis showed that prokaryotic community structure is mainly affected by pH values. Actinobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria were abundant in samples characterized by low pH values, while Nitrospirae, Chloroflexi, Deltaproteobacteria, Thaumarchaeota and Euryarchaeota were associated with high concentrations of heavy metals. Otherwise, Alphaproteobacteria was present in samples taken in sunlit areas. Regarding eukaryotic community structure, the sunlight had the greatest impact. Inside the mine, in the absence of light, fungi and protists members were the most abundant microorganisms, while those samples taken in the presence of light displayed algae (green algae and diatoms) as the most abundant ones. After receiving the mine drainage, the stream showed a decrease in the diatom abundance and green algae predominated.

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The authors would like to thank the English Scientific Writing Advice Group (GAECI) of the National University of San Luis for the revision of this article. Bonilla JO thanks CONICET for the awarded doctoral fellowship.


This work was supported by financial assistance of the National Agency for Scientific and Technological Promotion, Argentina [PICT 2013 No. 3170 to Dr. Villegas].

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Correspondence to Liliana B. Villegas.

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Communicated by L. Huang.

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 353 kb). Online Resource 1 Information of the sequencing data obtained from the metagenomics analysis of 16S rRNA and 18S rRNA genes


Supplementary material 2 (PDF 376 kb). Online Resource 2 Rarefaction curves obtained from Silva NGS server with 16S rRNA gene metagenomics data (A) and 18S rRNA gene metagenomics data (B)

Supplementary material 3 (PDF 195 kb). Online Resource 3 Alpha diversity metrics calculated using QIIME 1.9 scripts


Supplementary material 4 (PDF 166 kb). Online Resource 4 Relative abundance of prokaryotic phyla and classes obtained from metagenomics analysis of 16S rRNA sequences in selected samples


Supplementary material 5 (PDF 189 kb). Online Resource 5 Relative abundance of prokaryotic taxonomic groups obtained from metagenomics analysis of 16S rRNA sequences in selected samples


Supplementary material 6 (PDF 184 kb). Online Resource 6 Relative abundance of eukaryotic taxonomic groups obtained from metagenomics analysis of 18S rRNA sequences in selected sediment samples. Taxonomic groups not shown in this table correspond to higher eukaryotic organisms and were not included here

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Bonilla, J.O., Kurth, D.G., Cid, F.D. et al. Prokaryotic and eukaryotic community structure affected by the presence of an acid mine drainage from an abandoned gold mine. Extremophiles 22, 699–711 (2018).

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  • Acid mine drainage
  • Mining environmental liabilities
  • Eukaryotic community structure
  • Prokaryotic community structure
  • Metagenomics