Microbes as geological agents

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Microbial biogeochemistry

Many microbes are central geological agents that influence elemental cycles and hence recycle key nutrients and degrade organic as well as inorganic matter. "Microbial biogeochemistry is the study of microbially influenced geochemical reactions, enzymatically catalyzed or not, and their kinetics." [1]


Microbes as geological agents | Techniques to study microbes | Biohydrometallurgy | Bioimmobilization | Bioleaching

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Methods & applications

In biohydrometallurgy, microbes are used as geological agents by mining and water treatment industries in order to find new approaches and technologies to:

  • process ores and concentrates
  • remediate waste waters
  • recover and recycle metals

The types of microbes used in biohydrometallurgy to transform minerals are almost exclusively prokaryotes. The microbes used, in order to process and extract valuable metals from metal bearing materials (bioleaching microbes), are different from those that are used for remediating and treating metal containing solutions (Sulfate reducing bacteria).


  1. Geomicrobiology. By Henry L. Ehrlich. 2002. 4th edition. Marcel Dekker, New York. Pp. xxiii+768. ISBN 0 8247 0764 8.
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