The structure and microbiology of floating sulphide oxidising biofilms

Gilfillan, Joanne (2000) The structure and microbiology of floating sulphide oxidising biofilms. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

Floating sulphur biofilms are observed as surface layers in numerous aquatic sulphide-rich environments, and apparently play an important role in the cycling of sulphur in its various oxidation states. In addition to the conversion of sulphide to sulphur and/or sulphate species, it has been suspected that subsequent reduction back to sulphide may occur within the floating sulphur biofi1m in organic-rich environments. The use of sulphur biofilms for the harvesting of elemental sulphur from wastewater treatment systems has also been suggested. There is, however, little documented information in the literature on the structure of floating sulphur biofilms, or the microbial species responsible for their occurrence. In this study, floating sulphur biofilms were generated in a continuous flow baflle reactor and their structure was examined using scanning electron microscopy. It was found that they occur as layered structures with morphologically distinct bacterial forms present in different layers of the biofilm. The biofilpl structure was also found to be dynamic, with structural changes observed as feed conditions were altered. An enriched culture derived from the biofi1m demonstrated rates of sulphide oxidation comparable to values reported in the literature for liquid culture systems. The microbiology of the biofi1m was studied using traditional plate culture techniques and analysis ofrRNA genes. Identification of plate culture isolates as representatives of the biofi1m community proved to be limited, leading to a PeR-based cloning approach. The majority of the organisms present in the sulphur biofi1m were classified as species in the genus ~eudomonas, and a number of other bacterial species whose sulphide oxidising capacity has been noted previously. Surprisingly, only 2% of the clone library consisted of Thiobacillus spp., and no sulphate reducing bacteria were identified in the biofilm at all. These results indicate that in organic sulphide-rich environments facultative chemolithoheterotrophic bacterial forms predominate in floating sulphur biofilms, and that the complete biological cycling of sulphur may not occur in these systems.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Biofilms, Sulphides
Subjects:Q Science > QD Chemistry
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Biochemistry, Microbiology & Biotechnology
ID Code:2450
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:08 Feb 2012 09:46
Last Modified:08 Feb 2012 09:46
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