Quantitative Monitoring of Microbial Species during Bioleaching of a Copper Concentrate

Abstract : Monitoring of the microbial community in bioleaching processes is essential in order to control process parameters and enhance the leaching efficiency. Suitable methods are, however, limited as they are usually not adapted to bioleaching samples and often no taxon-specific assays are available in the literature for these types of consortia. Therefore, our study focused on the development of novel quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) assays for the quantification of Acidithiobacillus caldus, Leptospirillum ferriphilum, Sulfobacillus thermosulfidooxidans, and Sulfobacillus benefaciens and comparison of the results with data from other common molecular monitoring methods in order to evaluate their accuracy and specificity. Stirred tank bioreactors for the leaching of copper concentrate, housing a consortium of acidophilic, moderately thermophilic bacteria, relevant in several bioleaching operations, served as a model system. The microbial community analysis via qPCR allowed a precise monitoring of the evolution of total biomass as well as abundance of specific species. Data achieved by the standard fingerprinting methods, terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) and capillary electrophoresis single strand conformation polymorphism (CE-SSCP) on the same samples followed the same trend as qPCR data. The main added value of qPCR was, however, to provide quantitative data for each species whereas only relative abundance could be deduced from T-RFLP and CE-SSCP profiles. Additional value was obtained by applying two further quantitative methods which do not require nucleic acid extraction, total cell counting after SYBR Green staining and metal sulfide oxidation activity measurements via microcalorimetry. Overall, these complementary methods allow for an efficient quantitative microbial community monitoring in various bioleaching operations.
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Sabrina Hedrich, Anne-Gwenaëlle Guézennec, Mickaël Charron, Axel Schippers, Catherine Joulian. Quantitative Monitoring of Microbial Species during Bioleaching of a Copper Concentrate. Frontiers in Microbiology, Frontiers Media, 2016, 7, pp.2044 〈10.3389/fmicb.2016.02044〉. 〈hal-01427755〉

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