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Microbial Diversity and Its Relationship to Physicochemical Characteristics of the Water in Two Extreme Acidic Pit Lakes from the Iberian Pyrite Belt (SW Spain)

AuthorsSantofimia, Esther; González-Toril, Elena ; López-Pamo, Enrique; Gomáriz, María; Amils, Ricardo ; Aguilera, Ángeles
Issue Date26-Jun-2013
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 8(6):e66746 (2013)
AbstractThe Iberian Pyrite Belt (IPB) hosts one of the world's largest accumulations of acidic mine wastes and pit lakes. The mineralogical and textural characteristics of the IPB ores have favored the oxidation and dissolution of metallic sulfides, mainly pyrite, and the subsequent formation of acidic mining drainages. This work reports the physical properties, hydrogeochemical characteristics, and microbial diversity of two pit lakes located in the IPB. Both pit lakes are acidic and showed high concentrations of sulfate and dissolved metals. Concentrations of sulfate and heavy metals were higher in the Nuestra Señora del Carmen lake (NSC) by one order of magnitude than in the Concepción (CN) lake. The hydrochemical characteristics of NSC were typical of acid mine waters and can be compared with other acidic environments. When compared to other IPB acidic pit lakes, the superficial water of CN is more diluted than that of any of the others due, probably, to the strong influence of runoff water. Both pit lakes showed chemical and thermal stratification with well defined chemoclines. One particular characteristic of NSC is that it has developed a chemocline very close to the surface (2 m depth). Microbial community composition of the water column was analyzed by 16S and 18S rRNA gene cloning and sequencing. The microorganisms detected in NSC were characteristic of acid mine drainage (AMD), including iron oxidizing bacteria (Leptospirillum, Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans) and facultative iron reducing bacteria and archaea (Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, Acidiphilium, Actinobacteria, Acidimicrobiales, Ferroplasma) detected in the bottom layer. Diversity in CN was higher than in NSC. Microorganisms known from AMD systems (Acidiphilium, Acidobacteria and Ferrovum) and microorganisms never reported from AMD systems were identified. Taking into consideration the hydrochemical characteristics of these pit lakes and the spatial distribution of the identified microorganisms, a model explaining their geomicrobiology is advanced.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066746
issn: 1932-6203
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