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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Microbiol. | doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.01955

Microbial Communities Associated with Passive Acidic Abandoned Coal Mine Remediation

Truc T. Ly1,  Justin R. Wright2, Nicholas Weit1, Chris J. Mclimans1, Nikea Ulrich1, Vasily Tokarev2, Michelle M. Valkanas3, Nancy Trun3,  Shawn Rummel4, Chris J. Grant1 and  Regina Lamendella1, 2*
  • 1Biology, Juniata College, United States
  • 2Wright Labs, LLC, United States
  • 3Biological Sciences, Duquesne University, United States
  • 4Trout Unlimited, United States

Acid mine drainage (AMD) is an environmental issue that can be characterized by either acidic or circumneutral pH and high dissolved metal content in contaminated waters. It is estimated to affect roughly 3000 miles of waterways within the state of Pennsylvania, with half being acidic and half being circumneutral. To negate the harmful effects of AMD, ~300 passive remediation systems have been constructed within the state of Pennsylvania. In this study, we evaluated the microbial community structure and functional capability associated with Middle Branch passive remediation system in central PA. Sediment and water samples were collected from each area within the passive remediation system and its receiving stream. Environmental parameters associated with the remediation system were found to explain a significant amount of variation in microbial community structure. This study revealed shifts in microbial community structure from acidophilic bacteria in raw AMD discharge to a more metabolically diverse set of taxa (i.e. Acidimicrobiales, Rhizobiales, Chthoniobacteraceae) towards the end of the system. Vertical flow ponds and the aerobic wetland showed strong metabolic capability for sulfur redox environments. These findings are integral to the understanding of designing effective passive remediation systems because it provides insight as to how certain bacteria (SRBs and SOBs) are potentially contributing to a microbially mediated AMD remediation process. This study further supports previous investigations that demonstrated the effectiveness of sulfate reducing bacteria (SRBs) in the process of removing sulfate and heavy metals from contaminated water.

Keywords: acid mine drainage, Sulfate reducing bacteria, passive remediation system, shotgun-metagenomics, 16S rRNA

Received: 25 Jun 2018; Accepted: 08 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Ly, Wright, Weit, Mclimans, Ulrich, Tokarev, Valkanas, Trun, Rummel, Grant and Lamendella. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Regina Lamendella, Juniata College, Biology, Huntingdon, United States, lamendella@juniata.edu