Hydraulic retention time affects bacterial community structure in an As-rich acid mine drainage (AMD) biotreatment process.
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Arsenic removal consecutive to biological iron oxidation and precipitation is an effective process for treating As-rich acid mine drainage (AMD). We studied the effect of hydraulic retention time (HRT)-from 74 to 456 min-in a bench-scale bioreactor exploiting such process. The treatment efficiency was monitored during 19 days, and the final mineralogy and bacterial communities of the biogenic precipitates were characterized by X-ray absorption spectroscopy and high-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing. The percentage of Fe(II) oxidation (10-47%) and As removal (19-37%) increased with increasing HRT. Arsenic was trapped in the biogenic precipitates as As(III)-bearing schwertmannite and amorphous ferric arsenate, with a decrease of As/Fe ratio with increasing HRT. The bacterial community in the biogenic precipitate was dominated by Fe-oxidizing bacteria whatever the HRT. The proportion of Gallionella and Ferrovum genera shifted from respectively 65 and 12% at low HRT to 23 and 51% at high HRT, in relation with physicochemical changes in the treated water. aioA genes and Thiomonas genus were detected at all HRT although As(III) oxidation was not evidenced. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence of the role of HRT as a driver of bacterial community structure in bioreactors exploiting microbial Fe(II) oxidation for AMD treatment.
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