Microbes Corroding Concrete

A recent study form Ling et al explored microbial community succession on concrete. They examined the concrete in two sewage manholes over a year using 16S rRNA sequencing. Concrete is a huge part of urban environments, and corrosive microbes eat it away. This causes structural damage, which is especially unwanted in sewage systems. The abstract for the paper is below:

Microbially-induced concrete corrosion in headspaces threatens wastewater infrastructure worldwide. Models for predicting corrosion rates in sewer pipe networks rely largely on information from culture-based investigations. In this study, the succession of microbes associated with corroding concrete was characterized over a one-year monitoring campaign using rRNA sequence-based phylogenetic methods. New concrete specimens were exposed in two highly corrosive manholes (high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide gas) on the Colorado Front Range for up to a year. Community succession on corroding surfaces was assessed using Illumina MiSeq sequencing of 16S bacterial rRNA amplicons and Sanger sequencing of 16S universal rRNA clones. Microbial communities associated with corrosion fronts presented distinct succession patterns which converged to markedly low α-diversity levels (< 10 taxa) in conjunction with decreasing pH. The microbial community succession pattern observed in this study agreed with culture-based models that implicate acidophilic sulfur-oxidizer Acidithiobacillus spp. in advanced communities, with two notable exceptions. Early communities exposed to alkaline surface pH presented relatively high α-diversity, including heterotrophic, nitrogen-fixing, and sulfur-oxidizing genera, and one community exposed to neutral surface pH presented a diverse transition community comprised of less than 20% sulfur-oxidizers.

Leave a Reply

Alex Alexiev

Alex Alexiev is a recent UC Davis graduate with a BS in microbiology working in Jonathan Eisen’s lab on aquariums as part of the microbiology of the built environment.