Water discharging from abandoned coal mines can contain extremely high manganese levels. Removing this metal is an ongoing challenge. Passive Mn(II) removal beds (MRBs) contain microorganisms that oxidize soluble Mn(II) to insoluble Mn(III/IV) minerals, but system performance is unpredictable. Using amplicon pyrosequencing, we profiled the bacterial, fungal, algal, and archaeal communities in four MRBs, performing at different levels, in Pennsylvania to determine whether they differed among MRBs and from surrounding soil and to establish the relative abundance of known Mn(II) oxidizers. Archaea were not detected; PCRs with archaeal primers returned only nontarget bacterial sequences. Fungal taxonomic profiles differed starkly between sites that remove the majority of influent Mn and those that do not, with the former being dominated by Ascomycota (mostly Dothideomycetes) and the latter by Basidiomycota (almost entirely Agaricomycetes). Taxonomic profiles for the other groups did not differ significantly between MRBs, but operational taxonomic unit-based analyses showed significant clustering by MRB with all three groups (P<0.05). Soil samples clustered separately from MRBs in all groups except fungi, whose soil samples clustered loosely with their respective MRB. Known Mn(II) oxidizers accounted for a minor proportion of bacterial sequences (up to 0.20%) but a greater proportion of fungal sequences (up to 14.78%). MRB communities are more diverse than previously thought, and more organisms may be capable of Mn(II) oxidation than are currently known.
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© 2015, American Society for Microbiology.