Microbial Ecology

Assessment of the Microbial Community in a Constructed Wetland that Receives Acid Coal Mine Drainage

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Courtesy of Microbial Ecology

Abstract 
Constructed wetlands are used to treat acid drainage from surface or underground coal mines. However, little is known about the microbial communities in the receiving wetland cells. The purpose of this work was to characterize the microbial population present in a wetland that was receiving acid coal mine drainage (AMD). Samples were collected from the oxic sediment zone of a constructed wetland cell in southeastern Ohio that was treating acid drainage from an underground coal mine seep. Samples comprised Fe(III) precipitates and were pretreated with ammonium oxalate to remove interfering iron, and the DNA was extracted and purified by agarose gel electrophoresis prior to amplification of portions of the 16S rRNA gene. Amplified products were separated by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and DNA from seven distinct bands was excised from the gel and sequenced. The sequences were matched to sequences in the GenBank bacterial 16S rDNA database. The DNA in two of the bands yielded matches with Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans and the DNA in each of the remaining five bands was consistent with one of the following microorganisms: Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans, strain TRA3-20 (a eubacterium), strain BEN-4 (an arsenite-oxidizing bacterium), an Alcaligenes sp., and a Bordetella sp. Low bacterial diversity in these samples reflects the highly inorganic nature of the oxic sediment layer where high abundance of iron- and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria would be expected. The results we obtained by molecular methods supported our findings, obtained using culture methods, that the dominant microbial species in an acid receiving, oxic wetland are A. thiooxidans and A. ferrooxidans.

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