Genomic and transcriptomic analyses reveal adaptation mechanisms of an <i>Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans</i> strain YL15 to alpine acid mine drainage

<div><p><i>Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans</i> is an acidophile that often occurs in low temperature acid mine drainage, e.g., that located at high altitude. Being able to inhabit the extreme environment, the bacterium must possess strategies to copy with the survival stress. Nonetheless, information on the strategies is in demand. Here, genomic and transcriptomic assays were performed to illuminate the adaptation mechanisms of an <i>A</i>. <i>ferrivorans</i> strain YL15, to the alpine acid mine drainage environment in Yulong copper mine in southwest China. Genomic analysis revealed that strain has a gene repertoire for metal-resistance, e.g., genes coding for the <i>mer</i> operon and a variety of transporters/efflux proteins, and for low pH adaptation, such as genes for hopanoid-synthesis and the sodium:proton antiporter. Genes for various DNA repair enzymes and synthesis of UV-absorbing mycosporine-like amino acids precursor indicated hypothetical UV radiation—resistance mechanisms in strain YL15. In addition, it has two types of the acquired immune system–type III-B and type I-F CRISPR/Cas modules against invasion of foreign genetic elements. RNA-seq based analysis uncovered that strain YL15 uses a set of mechanisms to adapt to low temperature. Genes involved in protein synthesis, transmembrane transport, energy metabolism and chemotaxis showed increased levels of RNA transcripts. Furthermore, a bacterioferritin Dps gene had higher RNA transcript counts at 6°C, possibly implicated in protecting DNA against oxidative stress at low temperature. The study represents the first to comprehensively unveil the adaptation mechanisms of an acidophilic bacterium to the acid mine drainage in alpine regions.</p></div>