This study reports on the effect of inoculum history, growth substrates, and yeast extract on sodium chloride tolerance of Sulfobacillus thermosulfidooxidans DSM 9293T. The concentrations of NaCl for complete inhibition of Fe2+ oxidation by cells initially grown with ferrous iron sulfate, or tetrathionate, or pyrite as energy sources were 525 mM, 725 mM, and 800 mM, respectively. Noticeably, regardless of NaCl concentrations, oxygen consumption rates of S. thermosulfidooxidans with 20 mM tetrathionate were higher than with 50 mM FeSO4. NaCl concentrations of higher than 400 mM strongly inhibited the iron respiration of S. thermosulfidooxidans. In contrast, the presence of NaCl was shown to stimulate tetrathionate oxidation. This trend was especially pronounced in NaCl-adapted cells where respiration rates at 200 mM NaCl were threefold of those in the absence of NaCl. In NaCl-adapted cultures greater respiration rates for tetrathionate were observed than in non-NaCl-adapted cultures, especially at concentrations ≥ 200 mM NaCl. At concentrations of ≤ 200 mM NaCl, cell growth and iron oxidation were enhanced with the addition of increasing concentrations of yeast extract. Thus, cell numbers in cultures with 0.05% yeast extract were ∼5 times higher than without yeast extract addition. At NaCl concentration as high as 400 mM, however, iron oxidation rates improved compared to control assays without yeast extract, but there was no clear dependence on yeast extract concentrations. The initial growth of bacteria with and without yeast extract in the presence of different NaCl concentrations was shown to impact leaching of copper from chalcopyrite. Copper dissolution was enhanced in the presence of 200 mM NaCl and absence of yeast extract, while the addition of 0.02% yeast extract was shown to promote copper solubilization in the presence of 500 mM NaCl.
Keywords: Chalcopyrite bioleaching; Iron-oxidizing bacteria; Mixotrophic growth; Sodium chloride tolerance; Tetrathionate.
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