Geomicrobiology of Acid Mine Drainage in the weathering zone of pyrite-bearing schists in the Rudawy Janowickie Mountains (Poland)

Andrzej Borkowski


This paper presents the geomicrobiological analysis of acid water reservoirs and Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) developed in the weathering zone of pyrite-bearing schists near the closed-down pyrite mine in Wieściszowice (south-western Poland). The analysis was focused on two reservoirs characterized by different physical and chemical properties (pH, redox potential, content of sulphates and heavy metals). The study is the first thorough report on the geomicrobiological relationships taking place in the AMD setting in Wieściszowice and enables a description of the microbiological processes that significantly influence biogeochemical cycles of sulfur and iron in the analyzed water reservoirs. The reservoir water also harbors numerous big, organized microbial structures in the form of streamers. Samples of these structures were studied in detail using optical and electron microscopy, as well as microbiological cultivation and molecular methods. According to the obtained results, the slime streamers from the Wieściszowice mine are characterized by the co-occurrence of typical chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms oxidizing sulphur and iron together with sulphate reducing bacteria. The presence of these structures probably depends on the occurrence of iron (II) in the surrounding environment.


Acid Mine Drainage; microbial communities; pyrite; weathering zone

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