Microbiological analysis of overburden samples collected from chromite mining areas of Orissa, India revealed that they are rich in microbial density as well as diversity and dominated by Gramnegative (58%) bacteria. The phenotypically distinguishable bacterial isolates (130) showed wide degree of tolerance to chromium (2-8 mM) when tested in peptone yeast extract glucose agar medium. Isolates (92) tolerating 2 mM chromium exhibited different degrees of Cr+6 reducing activity in chemically defined Vogel Bonner (VB) broth and complex KSC medium. Three potent isolates, two belonging to Arthrobacter spp. and one to Pseudomonas sp. were able to reduce more than 50 and 80% of 2 mM chromium in defined and complex media respectively. Along with Cr+6 (MIC 8.6-17.8 mM), the isolates showed tolerance to Ni+2, Fe+3, Cu+2 and Co+2 but were extremely sensitive to Hg+2 followed by Cd+2, Mn+2 and Zn+2. In addition, they were resistant to antibiotics like penicillin, methicillin, ampicillin, neomycin and polymyxin B. During growth under shake-flask conditions, Arthrobacter SUK 1201 and SUK 1205 showed 100% reduction of 2 mM Cr+6 in KSC medium with simultaneous formation of insoluble precipitates of chromium salts. Both the isolates were also equally capable of completely reducing the Cr+6 present in mine seepage when grown in mine seepage supplemented with VB concentrate
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