Phytostabilization Potential of the Klondyke Mine Tailings Site and its Associated Microbial Community
AuthorMendez, Monica Orozco
iron- and sulfur-oxidizers
AdvisorMaier, Raina M.
Committee ChairMaier, Raina M.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractPhytostabilization is an emerging technology for the remediation of mine tailings sites. In arid and semiarid environments, mine tailings disposal sites are a major source of environmental pollution as they are subject to eolian dispersion and water erosion. Mine tailings are acidic to neutral, high in metal content, and nutrient poor. Furthermore, these sites remain unvegetated even after decades of no additional mining activity. In arid and semiarid regions, climatic variables such as high winds, salinity, and drought exacerbate the problem. The Klondyke mine tailings site is a model site for studying plant establishment in mine tailings within semiarid regions. It was a lead and zinc ore- processing operation from 1948 to 1958 and is similar in physicochemical characteristics to other acidic pyritic mine tailings.In a greenhouse study, a native drought tolerant halophyte, Atriplex lentiformis (Torr.) S. Wats., was evaluated for its potential as a phytostabilization candidate in compost-amended tailings from the Klondyke site. Germination, plant growth, and metal uptake of A. lentiformis were examined, and the microbial community was monitored by enumeration of autotrophic iron- and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria as well as heterotrophic bacteria. Results demonstrated that with 10 to 15% compost addition, growth of A. lentiformis was not affected and shoot metal concentrations were generally not a concern for foraging animals. Furthermore, the heterotrophic bacterial community is severely stressed but recovers with compost addition and successful plant growth. Therefore, A. lentiformis is a good candidate for phytostabilization of mine tailings with compost amendments.Poor revegetation of mine tailings has been attributed to the microbial community involved in acidifying tailings; however, no thorough microbial studies have been conducted. The second study characterizes the bacterial community of the Klondyke site and compares it to an offsite control sample. Results demonstrate that the heterotrophic community is indicative of soil health as it has a positive relationship with pH, phylotype richness, and diversity. Also, the mine tailings contain an unexplored diversity of acidophiles that are important in maintaining acidity and thus, metal bioavailability. Therefore, the bacterial community in mine tailings should be monitored in phytostabilization studies to evaluate restoration.
Degree ProgramSoil, Water & Environmental Science