Microorganisms and Minerals in Natural and Engineered Environments, Volume II

A special issue of Minerals (ISSN 2075-163X). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Mineralogy and Biogeochemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2023) | Viewed by 7351

Special Issue Editors

Laboratory of Chemolithotrophic Microorganisms, Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninsky Ave, 33, bld. 2, 119071 Moscow, Russia
Interests: biomining; sulfur and iron cycles; sulfide ores and ore concentrates; bioleaching; microbial diversity; acidophilic microorganisms; heavy metal resistance, stress response and metabolism of acidophiles
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Winogradsky Institute of Microbiology, Federal Research Centre “Fundamentals of Biotechnology” of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 119071 Moscow, Russia
Interests: bioleaching; biooxidation; hydrometallurgy; chemolithotrophic acidophiles; waste biotreatment
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue focuses on minerals and microorganisms from natural and engineered systems, such as acidic hot springs and soils, volcanic areas, mineral deposits, mining sites, and acid mine drainage. We invite you to share your recent studies on mineral processes and microorganisms involved in them, as well as microbe–mineral interactions. We also welcome contributions reporting on microbial diversity, metabolism, resistance, and stress response, which are of interest for basic and applied science, including but not limited to biohydrometallurgy, applied microbiology, and mineral chemistry. Studies of (bio)leaching and (bio)oxidation of sulfidic minerals are especially encouraged.

Dr. Anna Panyushkina
Dr. Maxim Muravyov
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Minerals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • mineral processing
  • microbial mineralogy
  • biohydrometallurgy
  • microorganisms
  • leaching and oxidation of sulfide raw materials
  • acidophiles
  • microbial diversity
  • mineral deposits
  • metal mining activities
  • volcanic areas and hydrothermal vents
  • acid mine drainage (AMD)
  • metal(loid)s
  • microbial resistance and stress response

Related Special Issue

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

17 pages, 3143 KiB  
Article
Old Sulfidic Ore Tailing Dump: Ground Features, Mineralogy, Biodiversity—A Case Study from Sibay, Russia
Minerals 2024, 14(1), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/min14010023 - 25 Dec 2023
Viewed by 618
Abstract
The Urals (Russia) are among the largest mining areas in the world, with millions of tons of mine waste deposited. An old sulfidic tailing dump formed over decades of mining activities at the Sibay ore-processing plant is a typical cause of acid mine [...] Read more.
The Urals (Russia) are among the largest mining areas in the world, with millions of tons of mine waste deposited. An old sulfidic tailing dump formed over decades of mining activities at the Sibay ore-processing plant is a typical cause of acid mine drainage (AMD) formation, posing a threat to ecosystems of neighboring environments. In this study, the formation of oxidized surface soil layers in four zones of the Sibay tailing dump was revealed, and their chemical–mineralogical and physical–mechanical characteristics were analyzed. According to the results of the metabarcoding of hypervariable regions of the 16S rRNA genes, oxidation in soil layers was associated with the activity of sulfur- and iron-oxidizing acidophiles represented by a few genera: Ferroacidibacillus, Sulfoacidibacillus, Sulfobacillus, and Ferroplasma. The structure of the microbial communities in soil layers differed depending on the zone and depth of sampling. In the samples characterized by the weak oxidation of sulfide minerals, microbial communities were dominated by bacteria of the genus Pseudomonas. The data obtained in this research are of importance to predict the oxidation/leaching processes in mine wastes and their negative environmental impacts in the mining region, as well as to develop technologies for processing these raw materials. Full article
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35 pages, 35441 KiB  
Article
In Vitro Experimental Observations on Fungal Colonization, Metalophagus Behavior, Tunneling, Bioleaching and Bioweathering of Multiple Mineral Substrates
Minerals 2023, 13(12), 1540; https://doi.org/10.3390/min13121540 - 12 Dec 2023
Viewed by 826
Abstract
This study reports on experimental observations during fungi–mineral substrate interactions. Selected mineral substrates of biotite, muscovite, bauxite, chromite, galena, malachite, manganite, and plagioclase were exposed in vitro to free fungal growth under open conditions. The interaction produced strong biochemical and biomechanical alterations to [...] Read more.
This study reports on experimental observations during fungi–mineral substrate interactions. Selected mineral substrates of biotite, muscovite, bauxite, chromite, galena, malachite, manganite, and plagioclase were exposed in vitro to free fungal growth under open conditions. The interaction produced strong biochemical and biomechanical alterations to the mineral substrates. Specifically, reported here is a three-dimensional thigmotropic colonization pattern of the mineral surfaces that suggested a possible pattern of fungal metalophagus behavior. Authigenic secondary mineral biomineralization occurred: Ca- and Mg-Oxalates such as weddellite: CaC2O4·2H2O, whewellite: CaC2O4·H2O, and glushinskite: MgC2O4·2H2O; struvite: (NH4) MgPO4·6H2O; gibbsite: Al(OH)3; and gypsum: CaSO4·2H2O. The bioleached elements included Fe, Pb, S, Cu, and Al, which formed single crystals or aggregates, amorphous layers, amorphous aggregates, and linear forms influenced by the fungal filaments. The fungi bioleached Fe and Al from bauxite and Mn from manganite and deposited the metals as separate mineral species. Gypsum was deposited during the interaction with the manganite substrate, indicating a source of Ca and S either within manganite impurities or within the fungal growth environment. Other biochemical and biomechanical features such as tunneling, strong pitting, exfoliation, dissolution, perforations, and fragmentation of the mineral surfaces were also produced. The results of this study, besides emphasizing the role of fungi in bioweathering and mineral alteration, also show that, to produce these alterations, fungi employ a 3D fungal colonization pattern of mineral surfaces guided by thigmotropic and possible metalophagus behavior. Full article
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14 pages, 2786 KiB  
Article
Metal Exchangeability in the REE-Enriched Biogenic Mn Oxide Birnessite from Ytterby, Sweden
Minerals 2023, 13(8), 1023; https://doi.org/10.3390/min13081023 - 30 Jul 2023
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Abstract
A black substance exuding from fractures was observed in 2012 in Ytterby mine, Sweden, and identified in 2017 as birnessite with the composition Mx[Mn(III,IV)]2O4∙(H2O)n. M is usually calcium and sodium, with x around [...] Read more.
A black substance exuding from fractures was observed in 2012 in Ytterby mine, Sweden, and identified in 2017 as birnessite with the composition Mx[Mn(III,IV)]2O4∙(H2O)n. M is usually calcium and sodium, with x around 0.5. The Ytterby birnessite is unique, with M being calcium, magnesium, and also rare earth elements (REEs) constituting up to 2% of the total metal content. The biogenic origin of the birnessite was established in 2018. Analysis of the microbial processes leading to the birnessite formation and the REE enrichment has continued since then. The process is fast and dynamic, as indicated by the depletion of manganese and of REE and other metals in the fracture water during the passage over the precipitation zone in the mine tunnel. Studies of the exchangeability of metals in the structure are the main objective of the present program. Exposure to solutions of sodium, calcium, lanthanum, and iron led to exchanges and altered distribution of the metals in the birnessite, however, generating phases with almost identical structures after the exchanges, and no new mineral phases were detected. Exchangeability was more efficient for trivalent elements (REE) over divalent (calcium) and monovalent (sodium) elements of a similar size (ionic radii 90–100 pm). Full article
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18 pages, 4056 KiB  
Article
Involvement of Soil Microorganisms in C, N and P Transformations and Phytotoxicity in Soil from Post-Industrial Areas Treated with Chemical Industry Waste
Minerals 2023, 13(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/min13010012 - 22 Dec 2022
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Abstract
Soil degradation is an unavoidable phenomenon that poses a real threat, as it limits soil utility and reduces its resources. Early assessment of soil degradation can prevent its further deterioration. Various parameters of soil microbial activity may be helpful in this evaluation. Therefore, [...] Read more.
Soil degradation is an unavoidable phenomenon that poses a real threat, as it limits soil utility and reduces its resources. Early assessment of soil degradation can prevent its further deterioration. Various parameters of soil microbial activity may be helpful in this evaluation. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to assess the usefulness of microbiological (total abundance of oligotrophic bacteria and filamentous fungi), biochemical (soil respiration) and enzymatic (dehydrogenase, protease, acid and alkaline phosphatase activity and fluorescein hydrolytic activity) indicators, as well as phytotoxicity, in monitoring the condition of chemically degraded soils due to severe alkalization. The experimental material was soil collected in three sites located at different distances from the reservoir with liquid post-production waste. The analyzed indicators were correlated with the physical and chemical properties of the soil in three variants at the level of sampling sites, soil profile and seasonal variability. All analyzed parameters showed significant changes in the level of their activity at individual sampling sites. The location closest to the waste reservoir was characterized by the lowest values of the discussed activities and the highest phytotoxicity. Individual activities also showed changes depending on the season and soil layer. Considering the usefulness in monitoring changes in soils exposed to chemical degradation, total bacterial and fungal counts, as well as acid and alkaline phosphatase activities and fluorescein hydrolytic activity proved to be the most sensitive indicators. Full article
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26 pages, 59172 KiB  
Article
Multiple Sulfur Isotope Evidence for Bacterial Sulfate Reduction and Sulfate Disproportionation Operated in Mesoarchaean Rocks of the Karelian Craton
Minerals 2022, 12(9), 1143; https://doi.org/10.3390/min12091143 - 09 Sep 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1715
Abstract
Sulfur isotope in sulfides from the Paleoarchean and the Neoarchean sedimentary rocks evidence microbial sulfur metabolism in Archean sulfur cycle. However, sulfur metabolism for the Mesoarchean interval is less obvious since evidence for a large range in sulfur isotope values has not yet [...] Read more.
Sulfur isotope in sulfides from the Paleoarchean and the Neoarchean sedimentary rocks evidence microbial sulfur metabolism in Archean sulfur cycle. However, sulfur metabolism for the Mesoarchean interval is less obvious since evidence for a large range in sulfur isotope values has not yet been observed in Mesoarchean samples. We report the results of multiple sulfur isotope measurements for sulfide minerals from ~2.8 Ga sedimentary rocks in the southeastern part of the Karelian Craton. In situ isotope analysis of sulfide grains have been performed using a femtosecond laser-ablation fluorination method. Sulfide samples studied here yielded Δ33S values between −0.3 and +2.7‰ and δ34S values between −10 and +33‰. The Δ33S dataset was interpreted to indicate the incorporation of sulfur from two coexisting sulfur pools, photolytic sulfate and photolytically derived elemental sulfur. We suggest that the relative contributions of these Δ33S different pools to the pyritic sulfur could be controlled by the metabolic activity of coexisting sulfate-reducing and sulfur-disproportionating bacteria during pyrite formation. We therefore suggest the operation of different metabolic pathways of sulfur in Mesoarchean sedimentary environments. Full article
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21 pages, 2634 KiB  
Article
Bioavailability of Colloidal Iron to Heterotrophic Bacteria in Sediments, and Effects on the Mobility of Colloid-Associated Metal(loid)s
Minerals 2022, 12(7), 812; https://doi.org/10.3390/min12070812 - 25 Jun 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1204
Abstract
The submicrometric fraction of surface sediments that accumulate in the bottom of dam reservoirs represent important sources of nutrients and contaminants in freshwater systems. However, assessing their stability in the presence of sediment bacteria as well as their bioavailability in the sediment remains [...] Read more.
The submicrometric fraction of surface sediments that accumulate in the bottom of dam reservoirs represent important sources of nutrients and contaminants in freshwater systems. However, assessing their stability in the presence of sediment bacteria as well as their bioavailability in the sediment remains poorly understood. We hypothesized that sediment’s bacteria are able to extract nutrients from sedimentary colloids (<1 µm fraction) and thus contribute to the release of other colloid-associated elements to water. Experiments were performed under laboratory conditions, using the submicrometric fractions of sediments recovered from two dam reservoirs (in calcareous and crystalline granitic contexts) and two heterotrophic bacteria (Gram-negative Pseudomonas sp. and Gram-positive Mycolicibacterium sp.). The results demonstrated that bacteria were able to maintain their metabolic activity (the acidification of the growth medium and the production of organic ligands) in the presence of colloids as the sole source of iron (Fe) and regardless of their chemical composition. This demonstrates that bioavailable Fe, aside from ionic forms, can also occur in colloidal forms. However, the bacteria also catalyzed the release of potentially toxic metallic elements (such as Pb) associated with colloids. These results help improve our understanding of the processes that influence contaminants’ mobility in the ecosystems as well as provide an important insight into current research evaluating the bioavailability of different forms of nutrients. Full article
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