Isolation of iron-oxidizing bacteria from corroded concretes of sewage treatment plants

Terunobu Maeda, Atsunori Negishi, Hiromi Komoto, Yuko Oshima, Kazuo Kamimura, Tsuyoshi Sugio

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30 Citations (Scopus)


Thirty-six strains of iron-oxidizing bacteria were isolated from corroded concrete samples obtained at eight sewage treatment plants in Japan. All of the strains isolated grew autotrophically in ferrous sulfate (3.0%), elemental sulfur (1.0%) and FeS (1.0%) media (pH 1.5). Washed intact cells of the 36 isolates had activities to oxidize both ferrous iron and elemental sulfur. Strain SNA-5, a representative of the isolated strains, was a gram- negative, rod-shaped bacterium (0.5-0.6 x 0.9-1.5 μm). The mean G+C content of its DNA was 55.9 mol%. The pH and temperature optima for growth were 1.5 and 30°C, and the bacterium had activity to assimilate 14CO2 into the cells when ferrous iron or elemental sulfur was used as a sole source of energy. These results suggest that SNA-5 is Thiobacillus ferrooxidans strain. The pHs and numbers of iron-oxidizing bacteria in corroded concrete samples obtained by boring to depths of 0-1, 1-3, and 3-5 cm below the concrete surface were respectively 1.4, 1.7, and 2.0, and 1.2 x 108, 5 x 107, and 5 x 106 cells/g concrete. The degree of corrosion in the sample obtained nearest to the surface was more severe than in the deeper samples. The findings indicated that the levels of acidification and corrosion of the concrete structure corresponded with the number of iron-oxidizing bacteria in a concrete sample. Sulfuric acid produced by the chemolithoautotrophic sulfur-oxidizing bacterium Thiobacillus thiooxidansis known to induce concrete corrosion. Since not only T. thiooxidans but also T. ferrooxidans can oxidize reduced sulfur compounds and produce sulfuric acid, the results strongly suggest that T. ferrooxidans as well as T. thiooxidans is involved in concrete corrosion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-305
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Bioscience and Bioengineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1999


  • Concrete
  • Corrosion
  • Iron-oxidizing bacterium
  • Sulfur-oxidizing bacterium
  • Thiobacillus ferrooxidans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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