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Bio-reduction of Fe(III) ores using three pure strains of Aeromonas hydrophila, Serratia fonticola and Clostridium celerecrescens and a natural consortium

García-Balboa, C., Bedoya, I. Chion, González, F., Blázquez, M.L., Muñoz, J.A., Ballester, A.
Bioresource technology 2010 v.101 no.20 pp. 7864-7871
Aeromonas hydrophila, Clostridium celerecrescens, Serratia fonticola, acidification, adaptation, citrates, ferrihydrite, iron, mixed culture, pH, weathering
The present work describes a research approach to the anaerobic bioleaching of Fe(III) ores. Three strains (Serratia fonticola, Aeromonas hydrophila and Clostridium celerecrescens) isolated from an acidic abandoned mine were selected to test their ability to reduce dissimilatory Fe(III). Total iron bio-reduction was achieved after 48h using either the consortium or the Aeromonas cultures. In the latter case, there was no evidence of precipitates and Fe(II) remained in solution at neutral pH through complex formation with citrate. None of the other cultures tested (mixed culture and the two isolates) exhibited this behaviour. Biotechnologically, this is a very promising result since it obviates the problem associated with undesirable precipitation of iron compounds in Fe(III)-reducing bacterial cultures. The performance of the Aeromonas culture was improved progressively by adaptation to moderately acidic pH values (up to 4.5) and to three different Fe(III)-oxyhydroxides as the sole source of iron: ferrihydrite, hematite and jarosite, commonly found as weathering compounds at mine sites. Dissimilatory Fe(III)-reducers for iron extraction from ores is therefore especially attractive in that acidification of the surrounding area can be minimized.