Impact of acid mine drainage chemistry and microbiology on the development of efficient Fe removal activities.

Affiliation

Department of Biology, The University of Akron, Akron, OH, USA; Integrated Bioscience Program, The University of Akron, Akron, OH, USA. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

Coal mine derived acid mine drainage (AMD) is formed when oxygenated water infiltrates mine voids and oxidizes FeS phases, generating acidic fluid rich in heavy metals, polluting thousands of miles of streams. Existing remediation options are cost-prohibitive and difficult to sustain. In some cases, AMD flows over previously pristine soil in thin sheets over terrestrial surface, enhancing AMD aeration and Fe(II) oxidizing activities, leading to oxidative Fe(II) precipitation from AMD, without any human intervention. Since robust Fe(II) biooxidation occurs in the mixture of intruding AMD and pristine soil, understanding the effects of chemically variant AMD can be exploited for effective Fe(II) removal. We hypothesized that chemistry and microbiology of AMD intruding pristine soil on surface would influence the development of Fe(II) oxidizing capabilities. Therefore, to investigate the response of pristine soil to the addition of AMD varying in chemical and microbial characteristics, we mixed soil with a near-neutral and moderately acidic AMD, in separate incubations. Incubations with near-neutral AMD developed microbial Fe(II) oxidation activities after 10 days. However, Fe(II) oxidation in moderately acidic AMD incubations was mostly abiotic. 16S rRNA gene sequences and metabolic functional prediction (Tax4Fun) analysis of near-neutral AMD and soil mixture indicated development of taxonomically different communities capable of activities similar to microorganisms in a mine void. In conclusion, results indicate that AMD chemistry and microbiology affects development of Fe(II) biooxidation. Therefore, understanding of the effect of AMD chemistry on the development of FeOB activities in soil can be exploited to design site-specific and sustainable solutions.

Keywords

Acid mine drainage (AMD),Bioremediation,Extreme environment,Iron oxidizing bacteria (FeOB),Microbial communities,

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