Comparative genomics begins to unravel the ecophysiology of bioleaching

D. S. Holmes, J. P. Cárdenas, J. Valdés, R. Quatrini, M. Esparza, H. Osorio, F. Duarte, C. Lefimil, E. Jedlicki

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The metabolic potential of 16 bioleaching microorganisms (Eubacteria and Archaea) has been investigated, allowing the prediction of potential inter- and intra-species physiological interactions (ecophysiology) during spatial and temporal changes that are known to occur within industrial bioleaching heaps. Genome analysis has allowed preliminary models to be built for genes and pathways involved in key processes such as nitrogen and carbon cycling, sulfur and iron uptake and homeostasis, extra-cellular polysaccharide biosynthesis, heavy metal resistance and energy metabolism. This paper will focus on the diverse ways that microorganisms obtain carbon from their environment with a particular emphasis on elucidating how these processes might be expected to vary over space and time during the lifetime of a bioleaching operation. It is anticipated that this knowledge will improve our understanding of fundamental biological processes in extremely acidic environments and it is hoped that it will capture usable knowledge that can be applied to bioleaching. Comparative genomics between two strains of Acidthiobacillus ferrooxidans highlights the importance of lateral gene transfer in increasing genetic and metabolic potential and suggests that classical molecular DNA techniques, such as rDNA typing, significantly underestimate the microbial diversity of bioleaching heaps.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiohydrometallurgy 2009
Subtitle of host publicationA Meeting Point between Microbial Ecology, Metal Recovery Processes and Environmental Remediation - Selected, peer rev. papers 18th Int. Biohydrometallurgy Symp., IBS 2009
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Event18th International Biohydrometallurgy Symposium, IBS 2009 - Bariloche, Argentina
Duration: 13 Sep 200917 Sep 2009

Publication series

NameAdvanced Materials Research
ISSN (Print)1022-6680


Other18th International Biohydrometallurgy Symposium, IBS 2009


  • Acidithiobacillus
  • Bioinformatics
  • Bioleaching
  • Biomining
  • Comparative genomics
  • Ecophysiology
  • Metagenome
  • Pangenome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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