Characterization of a sulfide-oxidizing biofilm developed in a packed-column reactor

Int Microbiol. 2007 Mar;10(1):29-37.


The potential of microbial mats to develop sulfide-oxidizing biofims was explored. A bioreactor specially designed for the treatment of sulfide-containing effluents was inoculated with a microbial-mat sample, and a complex microbial biofilm with sulfide-oxidation activity developed. The microbial composition of the biofilm was studied by pigment, microscopy, and 16S rRNA gene analyses. Purple sulfur bacteria and diatoms were observed by microscopy, chlorophyll a and bacteriochlorophyll a were detected in the pigment analysis, and high genetic diversity was found in the 16S rRNA gene library. Specialized anaerobic sulfur oxidizers (i.e., phototrophic purple and green sulfur bacteria) dominated the library. Aerobic phototrophs (diatoms) also developed and the oxygen produced allowed the growth of aerobic sulfide oxidizers, such as Thiomicrospira-like spp. Cyanobacteria, which are significant organisms in natural microbial mats, did not develop in the reactor but unexpected uncultured members from the Epsilonproteobacteria developed profusely. Moreover, a variety of more minor organisms, such as members of the Cytophaga-Flavobacterium-Bacteroides (CFB) and purple non-sulfur bacteria (Roseospirillum sp.), were also present. The results showed that a complex community with high genetic and metabolic diversity, including many uncultured organisms, can develop in a laboratory-scale reactor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / analysis
  • Biofilms*
  • Bioreactors / microbiology
  • Chlorobi / genetics
  • Chlorobi / metabolism
  • Chlorobi / physiology*
  • Chlorophyll / analysis
  • Chlorophyll A
  • Chromatiaceae / genetics
  • Chromatiaceae / metabolism
  • Chromatiaceae / physiology*
  • Cyanobacteria / genetics
  • Cyanobacteria / metabolism
  • Cyanobacteria / physiology*
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Microscopy, Phase-Contrast
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / chemistry
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Sulfides / metabolism*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Sulfides
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • bacteriochlorophyll A proteins, Bacteria
  • Chlorophyll
  • Chlorophyll A