Insight Into Interactions of Thermoacidophilic Archaea With Elemental Sulfur : Biofilm Dynamics and EPS Analysis
Biooxidation of reduced inorganic sulfur compounds (RISCs) by thermoacidophiles is of particular interest for the biomining industry and for environmental issues, e.g., formation of acid mine drainage (AMD). Up to now, interfacial interactions of acidophiles with elemental sulfur as well as the mechanisms of sulfur oxidation by acidophiles, especially thermoacidophiles, are not yet fully clear. This work focused on how a crenarchaeal isolate Acidianus sp. DSM 29099 interacts with elemental sulfur. Analysis by Confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and Atomic force microscopy (AFM) in combination with Epifluorescence microscopy (EFM) shows that biofilms on elemental sulfur are characterized by single colonies and a monolayer in first stage and later on 3-D structures with a diameter of up to 100 μm. The analysis of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) by a non-destructive lectin approach (fluorescence lectin-barcoding analysis) using several fluorochromes shows that intial attachment was featured by footprints rich in biofilm cells that were embedded in an EPS matrix consisting of various glycoconjugates. Wet chemistry data indicate that carbohydrates, proteins, lipids and uronic acids are the main components. Attenuated reflectance (ATR)-Fourier transformation infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and high-performance anion exchange chromatography with pulsed amperometric detection (HPAE-PAD) indicate glucose and mannose as the main monosaccharides in EPS polysaccharides. EPS composition as well as sugar types in EPS vary according to substrate (sulfur or tetrathionate) and lifestyle (biofilms and planktonic cells). This study provides information on the building blocks/make up as well as dynamics of biofilms of thermoacidophilic archaea in extremely acidic environments.