Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.Sc.

Department

Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research

First Advisor

Weisener, Christopher

Keywords

Acid Mine Drainage, Genes, Metatranscriptomics, Microbial Ecology, Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria, Zinc

Rights

CC BY-NC ND 4.0

Abstract

In anaerobic environments, sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) may precipitate sparingly-soluble, fine-grained sulfides as by-products of dissimilatory sulfate reduction. This bio-mechanism lends importance to environmental remediation research for its ability to immobilize harmful metals from contaminated environments. This research focuses on the effectiveness of this mechanism within a novel bioreactor treatment method employed at the Stockton coal mine in New Zealand. The bioreactor consists of a matrix of organics and ground mussel shells that intercept and neutralize acidic mine drainage (AMD) runoff while also serving as a substrate to sustain SRB that enhance removal of harmful dissolved metals. Material collected from the bioreactor will be used to provide SRB enrichments in the lab to investigate their ability to precipitate biogenic zinc-sulfides (ZnS). This study uses a combination of solution chemistry and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to understand the crystallization kinetics and morphological/bacterial relationships during ZnS formation. This, in tandem with RNA-based community analysis and investigations into relevant functional genes/metabolic pathways via metatranscriptomics will enhance understanding of the key microbial influences in situ. The objective of this work is to investigate the microbial causal relationships related to early nucleation of biogenic ZnS within a chemical, solid phase, and omics framework.

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