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Microbiome analysis at a proposed northern Canadian mine site

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Copper is a metal that can persist in the environment following anthropogenic activities. The toxic effects of metals such as copper in aquatic environments can be decreased through bioremediation efforts. Prior to proposed mining operations, upstream sites in a Canadian watercourse showed elevated copper concentrations in conjunction with low pH values. Downstream sites showed low copper concentrations and higher pH values. Natural bioremediation has possibly occurred in the area resulting in reduced copper concentrations. Microbial populations were sampled at five sites along the watercourse to determine their community profiles through 16S rRNA gene sequencing and assess the natural bioremediation process. Results showed the Gallionellaceae family dominated the community at the high copper concentration sites. Metagenome sequencing of the site with the highest copper concentration and one site upstream indicated an enrichment of metal tolerance genes, revealing microbial tolerance to this acidic metals-rich environment and suggesting possible mechanisms of bioremediation.
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