Seasonal blooms of neutrophilic Betaproteobacterial Fe(II) oxidizers and Chlorobi in iron-rich coal mine drainage sediments

Nia Lyn Blackwell, Bill Perkins, Barbara Palumbo-Roe, Jenny M. Bearcock, Jonathan R. Lloyd, Arwyn Edwards

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Waters draining from flooded and abandoned coal mines in the South Wales Coalfield (SWC) are substantial sources of pollution to the environment characterized by circumneutral pH and elevated dissolved iron concentrations (>1 mg L−1). The discharged Fe precipitates to form Fe(III) (oxyhydr)oxides which sustain microbial communities. However, while several studies have investigated the geochemistry of mine drainage in the SWC, less is known about the microbial ecology of the sites presenting a gap in our understanding of biogeochemical cycling and pollutant turnover. This study investigated the biogeochemistry of the Ynysarwed mine adit in the SWC. Samples were collected from nine locations within sediment at the mine entrance from the upper and lower layers three times over one year for geochemical and bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis. During winter, members of the Betaproteobacteria bloomed in relative abundance (>40%) including the microaerophilic Fe(II)-oxidizing genus Gallionella. A concomitant decrease in Chlorobi-associated bacteria occurred, although by summer the community composition resembled that observed in the previous autumn. Here, we provide the first insights into the microbial ecology and seasonal dynamics of bacterial communities of Fe(III)-rich deposits in the SWC and demonstrate that neutrophilic Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria are important and dynamic members of these communities
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfiz140
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number10
Early online date05 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2019


  • neutrophilic Fe(II) oxidation
  • Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria
  • coal mine drainage
  • ochreous sediments
  • spatiotemporal dynamics
  • mine drainage microbial ecology
  • Coal/analysis
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S/genetics
  • Chlorobi/genetics
  • Betaproteobacteria/classification
  • Environmental Pollution
  • Iron/metabolism
  • Seasons
  • Geologic Sediments/microbiology
  • Ferrous Compounds/metabolism
  • Coal Mining


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