Sunday 25 March 2018

Bacteria Produce Gold by Digesting Toxic Metals

Bacterium C. metallidurans has found a way to extract valuable trace elements from a compound of heavy metals without poisoning itself.

The rod-shaped bacterium C. metallidurans primarily lives in soils that are enriched with numerous heavy metals. Over time some minerals break down in the soil and release toxic heavy metals and hydrogen into their environment. There is one interesting side-effect: the formation of tiny gold nuggets.

In nature, C. metallidurans plays a key role in the formation of so-called secondary gold, which emerges following the breakdown of primary, geologically created, ancient gold ores. It transforms the toxic gold particles formed by the weathering process into harmless gold particles, thereby producing gold nuggets.

To learn about this remarkable bacterium, see Laboratory Manager magazine.

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle

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