The most studied group of bacteria within MEL are the Acidithiobacillus. They represent an extraordinary example of adaptation to extreme environments, and as such, has been subjected to great scrutiny by several research groups. They are a bacterial genus composed of obligatory acidophilic, Gram-negative, rod-shaped bacteria, but one of their most relevant and analyzed characteristics, is their capacity to derive energy from oxidation of elemental sulfur and reduced sulfur compounds to support autotrophic growth. Thanks to this ability, they are able to live in both natural and man-made low pH environments in a great variety of geo-climatic contexts, including acidic ponds, lakes and rivers, sulfur springs, acid mine/rock drainage waters and mining areas around the world.
These characteristics have made Acidithiobacillus bacteria a highly relevant member in the processing of minerals or biomining, but also in environmental pollution due to their generation of acid mine drainages.
The detection, identification and typing of members of this group has been a mayor focus of research since their description over 50 years ago. Several molecular typing methods are available to these effects, but their major contribution has been to provide specific insight into the diversity of acidithiobacilli present in industrial and natural environments, improving our knowledge of the inherent diversity within the Acidithiobacilli. We have recently published a review covering these topics, if you want to have a grasp of these techniques and their contributions to the advancement of the research within the Acidithiobacillus genus, you can check out our paper: