How do bacteria produce gold?
Since ancient times, the alchemists dreamed of turning any metal into gold with the help of the magic philosopher's stone. In the Middle Ages, this was the most popular occupation among scientists and the most desired goal. Only the laziest one didn’t attempt to create the precious yellow metal out of lead or bronze. They believed that there was a secret of the transformation ordained by fate, and one only needs to find an auxiliary magical ritual.
Centuries passed, and the dream of the ancient alchemists finally came true, except for one thing: ordinary bacteria serve as the mystical philosophical stone.
A smart bacillus
A group of German scientists managed to detect the bacterium bacillus Cupriavidus metallidurans that produces gold during the process of own detoxification from heavy metals.
Specialists have discovered a mysterious molecular process that allows the bacillus to "digest" toxins from metals and turn them into gold.
Particles of the precious metal, obtained as a result of the bacteria’s self-purification process from harmful substances, reach the size of the grains of sand.
Opinions of scientists
Frank Reith, a microbiologist at the University of Adelaide, Australia, commented on the important discovery: "Studies have shown that this bacterium is involved in the self-cleansing action that leads to the formation of the precious biomaterial — gold."
Cupriavidus metallidurans lives in soils with a high concentration of heavy metals. In an effort to survive in the highly toxic soil, this bacillus found a way to protect itself from harmful substances.
"The poisoning with heavy metals is deadly for most microorganisms. The bacterium Cupriavidus metallidurans has learned to effectively cleanse itself from them, secreting microscopic particles of gold during the process of detoxification," says a leading research specialist of bacillus, German microbiologist Dietrich Nies from the University of Halle-Wittenberg in Halle.
In the photo: a zoomed view of golden microparticles secreted by the bacterium Cupriavidus metallidurans.