Reductive dissolution of jarosite by a sulfate reducing bacterial community: Secondary mineralization and microflora development

Kun Gao, Mengge Jiang, Chuling Guo, Y. Zeng, Cong Fan, Junhui Zhang, John R. Reinfelder, Weilin Huang, Guining Lu, Zhi Dang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Jarosite is an iron-hydroxysulfate mineral commonly found in acid mine drainage (AMD). Given its strong adsorption capacity and its ability to co-precipitation with heavy metals, jarosite is considered a potent scavenger of contaminants in AMD-impacted environments. Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) play an important role in the reductive dissolution of jarosite; however, the mechanism involved has yet to be elucidated. In this study, an indigenous SRB community enriched from the Dabaoshan mine area (Guangdong, China) was employed to explore the mechanism of the microbial reduction of jarosite. Different cultures, with or without dissolved sulfate and the physical separation of jarosite from bacteria by dialysis bags, were examined. Results indicate that the reduction of jarosite by SRB occurred via an indirect mechanism. In systems with dissolved sulfate, lactate was incompletely oxidized to acetate coupled with the reduction of SO4 2− to S2−, which subsequently reduced the Fe3+ in jarosite, forming secondary minerals including vivianite, mackinawite and pyrite. In systems without dissolved sulfate, jarosite dissolution occurred prior to reduction, and similar secondary minerals formed as well. Extracellular polymeric substances secreted by SRB appeared to facilitate the release of sulfate from jarosite. Structural sulfate in the solid phase of jarosite may not be available for SRB respiration. Although direct contact between SRB and jarosite is not necessary for mineral reduction, wrapping jarosite into dialysis bags suppressed the reduction to a certain extent. Microbial community composition differed in direct contact treatments and physical separation treatments. Physical separation of the SRB community from jarosite mineral supported the growth of Citrobacter, while Desulfosporosinus dominated in direct contact treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1100-1109
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Nov 10 2019


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


  • Acid mine drainage
  • Extracellular polymeric substances
  • Jarosite
  • SRB community
  • Secondary minerals

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