Bacteria that consume heavy metals have been found in some of the most contaminated parts of the Peak District in the Southern Pennines and may be changing the pollutants into more toxic forms that could leak out into reservoirs, scientists will hear tomorrow (Monday 31 March 2008) at the Society for General Microbiologys 162nd meeting being held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.
The U.K. has approximately 10 15 % of the total global area of blanket bog and it covers about 8% of our total land surface. Many of the water gathering areas in the UK are located in upland blanket peat environments. It is estimated that around 16 million people live within 1 hours travelling time of the park boundary.
Millions of people rely both directly and indirectly on the health and conservation of the Peak District National Park, says Dr Patricia Linton from Manchester Metropolitan University. We have established which bacteria are dominant in the Southern Pennines. Any changes in the bacterial diversity could affect the delicate balance of the ecosystem and the health of the flora and fauna of the area.
The inter-disciplinary team of researchers has found that there is a split in the types of bacteria present, with extreme bacteria dominating in areas with the highest levels of heavy metals. Heavy metal pollution is likely to be a key factor in influencing bacterial species composition, says Dr Linton. Some of the bacteria we found in Peak District grow using iron and sulphur as an energy source. Some produce acid, which may be further acidifying the bog environment.
Many heavy metals become more soluble at low pH and therefore more toxic to plants and animals and more susceptible to leaching from the soil into waterways. Bacteria may be contributing to the release of toxic heavy metals and this may have severe implications for plant and animal health and water quality.
Climate change may make blanket bogs more susc
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Society for General Microbiology