Microbial succession

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The initial microbes change the environment so that other microorganisms can thrive.

Bacterial community in sulfide-rich tailings

"In freshly processed tailings the pH level is alkaline, because of liming, and the tailings often contain a bactericide. However, after some time the bactericide concentration is depleted, because of natural leaching by water percolation through the deposit, and microorganisms will start to grow. At these relatively high pH levels, sulfide oxidizers such as Thiobacillus neapolitanus, T. thioparus and T. denitrificans may be present (Ledin and Pedersen, 1996). These bacteria initiate the sulfide oxidation reactions, and with time the pore water will become more acidified due to acidity released. Acidophilic sulfur and iron oxidizers will then start to grow and catalyze the oxidation reaction further, producing even more acidity."

Source: Quantification of mineral weathering rates in sulfidic mine tailings under water-saturated conditions by 2005
Learning object about bacterial communities in sulfide-rich tailings

Questions to answer

Describe the succession of mesophiles, thermophiles and even hyperthermophiles in a bioleaching heap. (bacteria versus archaea)

Describe the succession to more and more acidophilic species in a heap or during acid mine drainage.

See also

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