22 Jul 2021
22 Jul 2021
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Composition and Niche-Specific Characteristics of Microbial Consortia Colonizing Marsberg Copper Mine in the Rhenish Massif

Sania Arif1, Heiko Nacke2, Elias Schliekmann1, Andreas Reimer3, Gernot Arp3, and Michael Hoppert1 Sania Arif et al.
  • 1Department of General Microbiology, Institute of Microbiology and Genetics, George August Universität, Göttingen, 37077, Germany
  • 2Department of Genomic and Applied Microbiology, Institute of Microbiology and Genetics, George August Universität, Göttingen, 37077, Germany
  • 3Geoscience Centre, Department of Geobiology, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, 37077, Germany

Abstract. The Kilianstollen Marsberg (Rhenish Massif, Germany) has been extensively mined for copper ores, dating from Early Medieval Period till 1945. The exposed organic-rich alum shale rocks influenced by the diverse mine drainages at an ambient temperature of 10 °C could naturally enrich biogeochemically distinct heavy metal resistant microbiota. This metagenomic study evaluates the microbially colonized subterranean rocks of the abandoned copper mine Kilianstollen to characterize the colonization patterns and biogeochemical pathways of individual microbial groups. Under the selective pressure of the heavy metal contaminated environment at illuminated sites, Chloroflexi (Ktedonobacteria) and Cyanobacteria (Oxyphotobacteria) build up whitish-greenish biofilms. In contrast, Proteobacteria, Firmicutes and Actinobacteria dominate rocks around the uncontaminated spring water streams. The metagenomic analysis revealed that the heavy metal resistant microbiome was evidently involved in redox cycling of transition metals (Cu, Zn, Co, Ni, Mn, Fe, Cd, Hg). No deposition of metals or minerals, though, was observed by transmission electron microscopy in Ktedonobacteria biofilms which may be indicative for the presence of different detoxification pathways. The underlying heavy metal resistance mechanisms, as revealed by analysis of metagenome-assembled genomes, were mainly attributed to transition metal efflux pumps, redox enzymes, volatilization of Hg0, methylated intermediates of As(III) and reactive oxygen species detoxification pathways.

Sania Arif et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on bg-2021-165', Denise Akob, 20 Aug 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Sania Arif, 25 Nov 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on bg-2021-165', Anonymous Referee #2, 13 Oct 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Sania Arif, 25 Nov 2021

Sania Arif et al.

Sania Arif et al.


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Short summary
The natural enrichment of Chloroflexi (Ktedonobacteria) at the Kilianstollen Marsberg copper mine rocks being exposed to the acidic sulfate rich leachate led to an investigation of eight metagenomically assembled genomes (MAGs) involved in copper and other transition heavy metal resistance in addition to low pH resistance and aromatic compounds degradation. The present study offers functional insights about a novel cold adapted Ktedonobacteria MAG extremophily along with other phyla MAGs.