Acidithiobacillus ferriphilus sp. nov., a facultatively anaerobic iron- and sulfur-metabolizing extreme acidophile

Carmen Falagán, D. Barrie Johnson*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The genus Acidithiobacillus includes three species that conserve energy from the oxidation of ferrous iron, as well as reduced sulfur, to support their growth. Previous work, based on multi-locus sequence analysis, identified a fourth group of iron- and sulfur-oxidizing acidithiobacilli as a potential distinct species. Eleven strains of ‘Group IV’ acidithiobacilli, isolated from different global locations, have been studied. These were all shown to be obligate chemolithotrophs, growing aerobically by coupling the oxidation of ferrous iron or reduced sulfur (but not hydrogen) to molecular oxygen, or anaerobically by the oxidation of reduced sulfur coupled to ferric iron reduction. All strains were mesophilic, although some were also psychrotolerant. Strain variation was also noted in terms of tolerance to extremely low pH and to elevated concentrations of transition metals. One strain was noted to display far greater tolerance to chloride than reported for other iron-oxidizing acidithiobacilli. All of the strains were able to catalyse the oxidative dissolution of pyrite and, on the basis of some of the combined traits of some of the strains examined, it is proposed that these may have niche roles in commercial mineral bioprocessing operations, such as for low temperature bioleaching of polysulfide ores in brackish waters. The name Acidithiobacillus ferriphilus sp. nov. is proposed to accommodate the strains described, with the type strain being M20T (=DSM 100412T=JCM 30830T).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-211
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • UKRI
  • NERC
  • NE/L014076/1


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