Differential Genetic Expression in Heap Bioleaching of Low-Grade Copper Sulphide Ore at Escondida Mine, Chile


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During the last decades, microbial bioleaching of metallic sulphide ores has become a very important process in the mining industry. The study of biodiversity in those systems has revealed the occurrence of several acidophilic organisms, forming a dynamic community including Bacteria and Archaea. Despite the importance of the heap bioleaching process, the metabolic behaviour of a microbial community in bioleaching systems remains unknown. The role played by members of the community inhabiting a bioheap environment has been estimated by the phenotypic characteristics of pure cultures, such as iron oxidation, sulphur oxidation, resistance to high ion concentration and metal tolerance, among others. The global genomic expression of the community inhabiting an industrial bioheap of low-grade copper sulphide ore at Escondida mine in Chile was investigated by random arbitrary primed polymerase chain reaction (RAP-PCR). Three random primers were used and twenty differentially expressed bands were cloned and sequenced. Several sequences were related to 16S rRNA of members of the microbial community; two sequences were related to the α subunit of pyruvate dehydrogenase from Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans. The expression levels of the pyruvate dehydrogenase gene in samples from an industrial bioleaching operation at different stages were checked by quantitative real-time PCR.



Advanced Materials Research (Volumes 20-21)

Edited by:

Axel Schippers, Wolfgang Sand, Franz Glombitza and Sabine Willscher




P. A. Galleguillos et al., "Differential Genetic Expression in Heap Bioleaching of Low-Grade Copper Sulphide Ore at Escondida Mine, Chile", Advanced Materials Research, Vols. 20-21, pp. 435-438, 2007

Online since:

July 2007




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