Identifying microorganisms related to copper bioleaching at 35 and 50°C

ABSTRACT Bioleaching is an alternative to pyrometallurgy for the production of metals from low-grade ores containing high level of impurities, once that live pyrometallurgical methods are economically unfeasible. The quantification and identification of those microorganisms related to bioleaching is an important strategy for process control and thus metal recovery. In this regard, molecular biology is one of the main techniques utilized for such objective. This study applied PCR, RFLP and PCR-DGGE techniques to show that the microbial diversity in copper bioleaching columns under investigation is low and the temperature is important to define the species found, with predominance of Acidithiobacillus ferroxidans, at 35°C and Sulfobacillus thermosulfidooxidans at 50°C.