A novel acidophilic member of the phylum Actinobacteria was isolated from an acidic stream draining an abandoned copper mine in north Wales. The isolate (PY-F3) was demonstrated to be a heterotroph that catalyzed the oxidation of ferrous iron (but not of sulfur or hydrogen) under aerobic conditions, and the reduction of ferric iron under micro-aerobic and anaerobic conditions. PY-F3 formed long entangled filaments of cells (>50 μm long) during active growth phases, though these degenerated into smaller fragments and single cells in late stationary phase. Although isolate PY-F3 was not observed to grow below pH 2.0 and 10 °C, harvested biomass was found to oxidize ferrous iron at relatively fast rates at pH 1.5 and 5 °C. Phylogenetic analysis, based on comparisons of 16S rRNA gene sequences, showed that isolate PY-F3 has 91-93% gene similarity to those of the four classified genera and species of acidophilic Actinobacteria, and therefore is a representative of a novel genus. The binomial Acidithrix ferrooxidans is proposed for this new species, with PY-F3 as the designated type strain (=DSM 28176(T), =JCM 19728(T)).
Keywords: Acidophile; Actinobacteria; Iron oxidation; Iron reduction; Novel species.
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