BIOTECHNOLOGY AND BIOENGINEERING, cilt.97, ss.1205-1215, 2007 (SCI İndekslerine Giren Dergi)
An enrichment culture from a boreal sulfide mine environment containing a low-grade polymetallic ore was tested in column bioreactors for simulation of low temperature heap leaching. PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and 16S rRNA gene sequencing revealed the enrichment culture contained an Acidithiobacillus fierrooxidans strain with high 16S rRNA gene similarity to the psychrotolerant strain SS3 and a mesophilic Leptospirilluni ferrooxidans strain. As the mixed culture contained a strain that was within a clade with SS3, we used the SS3 pure culture to compare leaching rates with the At. ferrooxidans type strain in stirred tank reactors for mineral sulfide dissolution at various temperatures. The psychrotolerant strain SS3 catalyzed pyrite, pyrite/arsenopyrite, and chalcopyrite concentrate leaching. The rates were lower at 5 degrees C than at 30 degrees C, despite that all the available iron was in the oxidized form in the presence of At. ferrooxidans SS3. This suggests that although efficient At. ferrooxidans SS3 mediated biological oxidation of ferrous iron occurred, chemical oxidation of the sulfide minerals by ferric iron was rate limiting. In the column reactors, the leaching rates were much less affected by low temperatures than in the stirred tank reactors. A factor for the relatively high rates of mineral oxidation at 7 degrees C is that ferric iron remained in the soluble phase whereas, at 21 degrees C the ferric iron precipitated. Temperature gradient analysis of ferrous iron oxidation by this enrichment culture demonstrated two temperature optima for ferrous iron oxidation and that the mixed culture was capable of ferrous iron oxidation at 5 degrees C.