UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Core Sulphate-Reducing Microorganisms in Metal-Removing Semi-Passive Biochemical Reactors and the Co-Occurrence of Methanogens Rezadehbashi, Maryam; Baldwin, Susan A.


Biochemical reactors (BCRs) based on the stimulation of sulphate-reducing microorganisms (SRM) are emerging semi-passive remediation technologies for treatment of mine-influenced water. Their successful removal of metals and sulphate has been proven at the pilot-scale, but little is known about the types of SRM that grow in these systems and whether they are diverse or restricted to particular phylogenetic or taxonomic groups. A phylogenetic study of four established pilot-scale BCRs on three different mine sites compared the diversity of SRM growing in them. The mine sites were geographically distant from each other, nevertheless the BCRs selected for similar SRM types. Clostridia SRM related to Desulfosporosinus spp. known to be tolerant to high concentrations of copper were members of the core microbial community. Members of the SRM family Desulfobacteraceae were dominant, particularly those related to Desulfatirhabdium butyrativorans. Methanogens were dominant archaea and possibly were present at higher relative abundances than SRM in some BCRs. Both hydrogenotrophic and acetoclastic types were present. There were no strong negative or positive co-occurrence correlations of methanogen and SRM taxa. Knowing which SRM inhabit successfully operating BCRs allows practitioners to target these phylogenetic groups when selecting inoculum for future operations.

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