16S/23S intergenic spacer region as a genetic marker for Thiobacillus thiooxidans and T. ferrooxidans

Hye Won Lee, Won Young Choi, Kyung Suk Cho, Wonja Choi

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4 Scopus citations


Bioleaching is the process in which insoluble metal sulfide is oxidized by specialized iron- and/or sulfur-oxidizing lithotrophic bacteria in acidic, metal-rich environments. Most of these processes are carried out by the genus Thiobacillus. Three novel Thiobacillus strains (Thiobacillus thiooxidans AZ11, Thiobacillus thiooxidans MET, and Thiobacillus thiooxidans TAS) associated with bioleaching have been isolated from soil and sludge (Korean patent No. 1999-0073060 for T. thiooxidans AZ11, Korean patent No. 1999-0005798 for T. thiooxidans MET, and Korean patent No. 1999-0073059 for T. thiooxidans TAS). A partial sequence of 16S ribosomal RNA gene (16S rDNA) and the entire sequence of 16S/23S intergenic spacer region (ISR) were determined in the three above novel strains and in Thiobacillus ferrooxidans ATCC19859 as a reference strain. When phylogenetic analysis was performed based on G+C contents and sequence alignments, T. ferrooxidans ATCC19859 was found to be closely related to previously registered T. ferrooxidans strains in a monophyletic manner, while the three novel T. thiooxidans strains were classified in a paraphyletic manner. Close examination on the base composition of 16S/23S ISR revealed that the 5′ part (nucleotide residues 21-200) was specific for the genus Thiobacillus. On the other end, the 3′ part (nucleotide residues 201-520) showed specificity in T. ferrooxidans strains, but not in T. thiooxidans strains. These results suggest that the proximal and distal halves of 16S/23S ISR could be used as a genetic marker for the identification of the genus Thiobacillus and the species T. ferrooxidans, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1046-1054
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001


  • 16S rDNA
  • 16S/23S ISR
  • Bioleaching
  • Phylogenetic marker
  • Phylogenetic tree
  • Thiobacilli


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