Adhesion to metal sulfide surfaces by cells of Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans and Leptospirillum ferrooxidans.
Attachment of four strains of Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans to pyrite, chalcopyrite, galena, sphalerite, or quartz was found to be mineral-selective. The bacterial extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) are responsible for mediating this process. Attachment of cells of A. ferrooxidans as well as of Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans was diminished, when depleted of their EPS. After 5 days of cultivation cells of A. ferrooxidans cover mineral surfaces with a dense biofilm, as visualized by fluorescence microscopy and AFM. Primary attachment was restricted to surface sites with visible defects. Chem. analyses of EPS of A. ferrooxidans, A. thiooxidans, and Leptospirillum ferrooxidans indicated neutral sugars, fatty acids and uronic acids. The compn. differed with the strain and the growth substrate. IronIII ions were only detectable in EPS of ironII ion- and pyrite-grown cells, but not in EPS of sulfur grown cells. Pyrite oxidn. rates correlated with the amt. of EPS-complexed ironIII ions in the case of A. ferrooxidans and L. ferrooxidans. Furthermore, pyrite oxidn. rates of L. ferrooxidans were correlated with the genetic affiliation of the strains. The data for A. ferrooxidans seem to indicate a similar correlation, however, the results were not as clear-cut as those obtained for L. ferrooxidans. Sulfur oxidn. rates of A. thiooxidans did not require EPS complexed ironIII ions.
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