Characterization of bacteria isolated from a platinum mine tailings dam
Marais, Laurette Marlize
MetadataShow full item record
Contamination from various sources has a huge impact on soil health and microbial community composition. Metal contamination of soil in mining scenarios is of concern and is not adequately addressed, particularly with respect to the microbial community. The mining industry is one of the largest contributors to heavy metal contamination of soil in South Africa, especially since the country is one of the major mining countries in the world. Platinum mining is of special importance, since the largest percentage of the world’s reserves of platinum group metals are found and mined in South Africa. Metals from mining activities become irreversibly immobilized in soil systems because they cannot be degraded and has a huge impact on soil systems. In this study, bacteria was isolated from soil samples collected from a platinum mine tailings dam outside Rustenburg. During the warm sampling season (March 2006) most isolates were found, especially in sites 3 and 4. During the colder and drier season (May 2006) there were less isolates. Most of the isolated cultures also displayed a wide temperature growth range, mostly between 24°C - 37°C. Paenibacillus lautus and Bacillus subtilus DN-10 had a growth range between 5°C - 40°C. Culturable metal tolerant bacteria were isolated, purified and identified using 16S rDNA sequences. Nine different species were found namely Paenibacillus lautus strain DS19, Paenibacillus lautus, Paenibacillus sp. C15, uncultured Paenibacillaceae, Bacillus subtilis strain DN-10, Bacillus sp. KDNB5, Bacillus cereus, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia and Alcaligenes sp. DJWH 146-2. The ability of these strains to tolerate metal concentrations were explored by determining their minimum inhibitory concentrations for a selection of metals e.g. aluminum, barium, cobalt, chromium, cadmium, copper, iron, lead, manganese, nickel and mercury. Most isolates were able to tolerate >5mM of the Al\Ni alloy and cobalt. Transmission electron microscopy was used to determine the location of metals inside bacterial cells and electron dispersive X-ray analysis was used to determine the levels of metals inside microbial cells. Bacillus subtilis DN-10 (LDK0306) showed a high MIC (>5mM) for most metals used, except Hg. This strain also had a high percentage (10.26%) of Pb detected in its cells by EDX. This was the highest percentage detected. Plasmids were extracted from the identified strains and can help gain a better understanding of metal tolerance mechanisms used by these isolates.