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Acid mine drainage (AMD) is found near abandoned coal mines in southeast Kansas as a result of mine waste runoff resulting in low pH. Soil bacteria may be used as an indicator of ecosystem health in these human-perturbed areas. The goal of the present study was to assess the microbial diversity of an AMD site. In fall (2015) and summer (2016), soil samples were aseptically collected from five distant sites representing diverse topography. Soil texture and physico-chemical characters were evaluated. A total of 58 morphologically different colonies were characterized using physiological and biochemical tests and were identified at the species level using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. In addition, acidophilic bacterial strains were screened using selective media. Soil pH ranged from 2.5-6.8 and varied concentrations of arsenic, manganese, and iron were detected. Biochemical tests revealed a diverse metabolic potential of the bacterial population. The majority of bacterial species belonged to common soil inhabitant phyla Firmicutes and Proteobacteria. A total of 17 acidophilic bacterial isolates were identified and would be subjected to small-scale bioremediation process using lyophilization complemented with other physico-chemical techniques. A baseline measurement of bacterial diversity as well as soil chemistry of AMD sites in this region, is novel in its kind and the findings will have potential use in remediation of AMD sites and restoration of natural habitat for plants and animals.

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