The Iberian Pyrite Belt extends from Portugal to Spain and is one of the most important pyrite regions in the world. Its aquatic reservoirs display extreme conditions characterized by low pH and high concentrations of heavy metals. In this study, the diversity of microeukaryotes was analysed at the abandoned mines of São Domingos (Portugal) and at Rio Tinto (Spain). DNA was extracted from water samples and a set of eukaryotic universal primers directed to the small subunit rRNA genes (rDNA) was used. The amplicons were analysed by molecular cloning and temperature gradient gel electrophoresis (TGGE). In addition, a fungi-specific primer set was also used in TGGE experiments. The fungi-specific primers contributed to a substantial increase in the number of fungal taxa found due, probably, to the relative low density of fungal structures. Several microorganisms, belonging (or closely related) to the ascomycetous yeast Pichia acaciae, the basidiomycetous yeasts Cryptococcus humicola and Cystofilobasidium bisporidii, the green algae Chlamydomonas noctigama and Chlorella protothecoides var. acidicola and some uncultured microeukaryotes were present at both localities, which suggests that specific microorganisms are adapted to the peculiar conditions of the Iberian Pyrite Belt extreme environments. However, in spite of the similarities, a higher algal richness was observed at S. Domingos, whereas for R. Tinto the richness of fungi was more prominent.
- Extreme environments
- Iberian Pyrite Belt
- Molecular cloning
- Temperature gradient gel electrophoresis