Now, toxic metal-gobbling bacteria produces gold nuggets as side-effect
A metal-gobbling bacteria manages to ingest toxic metallic compounds and still thrive, producing tiny gold nuggets as a side-effect, scientists have found.
High concentrations of heavy metals, like copper and gold, are toxic for most living creatures, researchers said.
However, that is not the case for the bacterium C metallidurans, which has found a way to extract valuable trace elements from a compound of heavy metals without poisoning itself.
The bacteria produces tiny gold nuggets as a side-effect, according to the study published in the journal Metallomics.
A team of researchers from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Germany has discovered the molecular processes that take place inside the bacteria.
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 enough hydrogen to conserve energy and nearly no competition,” said Professor Dietrich H Nies, a microbiologist at MLU.
“If an organism chooses to survive here, it has to find a way to protect itself from these toxic substances,” said Nies.
Together with Professor Frank Reith from the University of Adelaide in Australia, Nies was …read more