Barragán CE, Márquez MA, Dopson M, Montoya D
Extremophiles 25 (2) 143-158 [2021-03-00; online 2021-02-22]
Biooxidation of gold-bearing refractory mineral ores such as arsenopyrite (FeAsS) in stirred tanks produces solutions containing highly toxic arsenic concentrations. In this study, ferrous iron and inorganic sulfur-oxidizing Acidithiobacillus strain IBUN Ppt12 most similar to Acidithiobacillus ferrianus and inorganic sulfur compound oxidizing Acidithiobacillus sp. IBUNS3 were grown in co-culture during biooxidation of refractory FeAsS. Total RNA was extracted and sequenced from the planktonic cells to reveal genes with different transcript counts involved in the response to FeAsS containing medium. The co-culture's response to arsenic release during biooxidation included the ars operon genes that were independently regulated according to the arsenopyrite concentration. Additionally, increased mRNA transcript counts were identified for transmembrane ion transport proteins, stress response mechanisms, accumulation of inorganic polyphosphates, urea catabolic processes, and tryptophan biosynthesis. Acidithiobacillus spp. RNA transcripts also included those encoding the Rus and PetI proteins involved in ferrous iron oxidation and gene clusters annotated as encoding inorganic sulfur compound metabolism enzymes. Finally, mRNA counts of genes related to DNA methylation, management of oxidative stress, chemotaxis, and motility during biooxidation were decreased compared to cells growing without mineral. The results provide insights into the adaptation of Acidithiobacillus spp. to growth during biooxidation of arsenic-bearing sulfides.