Cloning, Sequencing and Partial Characterization of the Accessory Gene Region of Plasmid pTC-F14 isolated from the Biomining Bacterium Acidithiobacillus caldus f.

Goldschmidt, Gunther Karl (2005-03)

Thesis (MSc (Microbiology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.


Plasmid pTC-F14 is a 14.2kb promiscuous, broad-host range IncQ-like mobilizable plasmid isolated from Acidithiobacillus caldus f. At. caldus is a member of a consortium of bacteria (along with Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans and Leptospirilum ferrooxidans) that is used industrially for decomposing metal sulphide ores and concentrates at temperatures of 40ºC or below which is now a well-established industrial process to recover metals from certain copper, uranium and gold-bearing minerals or mineral concentrates. These biomining microbes are usually obligately acidophilic, autotrophic, usually aerobic iron- or sulphur-oxidizing chemolithotrophic bacteria. Their remarkable physiology allows them to inhabit an ecological niche that is largely inorganic and differs from those environments populated by the more commonly studied non-acidophilic heterotrophic bacteria. At. caldus, is a moderately thermophilic (45 to 50ºC), highly acidophilic (pH1.5 to 2.5) sulphur-oxidizing bacterium, and its role as one of the major players in the industrial decomposition of metal sulphide ores has become evident in recent years. At. caldus f from which pTC-F14 was isolated was found to be one of two dominant organisms in a bacterial consortium undergoing pilot-scale testing for the commercial extraction of nickel from ores.

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