Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-11-2016

Major Department or Program



Bryn E. Kimball


Iron oxidizing microorganisms play a key role in the iron (Fe) cycle. In metal-rich environments, microorganisms catalyze Fe oxidation and subsequent precipitation reactions, thus forming biogenic minerals. This process occurs naturally, but can also be human induced in cases of metal-contaminated water remediation efforts. Iron-oxidizing bacteria (FeOB) that live in neutral pH environments are highly specialized because they have to compete with the rapid chemical oxidation of Fe2+ that occurs at neutral pH. The primary research objective was to determine what FeOB can be detected in the artificially neutral, Fe-rich environment of Blackbird Creek that flows from the retired Blackbird Mine in Cobalt, Idaho. The bacteria sequences from two sample sites were classified using the 16S rRNA gene. The culture-independent study indicated that neutrophilic FeOB were in fact present in Blackbird Creek, along with a variety of aquatic and soil bacteria. FeOB interactions with Fe have significant implications for environmental cleanup and acid mine drainage (AMD) remediation, as the bacteria help to remove dissolved metals from solution through biomineralization.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Chemical elements -- Metals -- Transitional metals -- Iron, Iron bacteria, Iron -- Oxidation, Cobalt (Idaho) -- Blackbird Creek, Blackbird Mine (Lemhi Country, Idaho), Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2016 -- Geology Department

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Document Type

Whitman Community Accessible Thesis

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