Microbial identification and characterization
Molecular ecology techniques are being applied to help improve the recovery of metals from sulfidic ores in controlled systems such as tank-leaching reactors. In these particular systems the quantification and control of microbial populations is very important.
The large range of techniques, each with its own advantages and disadvantages, has been applied and optimized by many different R&D groups in the world. Different molecular methods give highly comparable results for the identification and determination of relative abundance of bioleaching microorganisms (FISH, DGGE, CE-SSCP, T-RFLP, and PCR) as well as for the quantification of different species (plating and Q-PCR). Each of the molecular tools described above in combination with the optimal sampling and fixing procedure can be used successfully for the detection, identification and monitoring of microbes in bioleaching processes.