Researchers Discover Bacteria That Produces Pure Gold

Bacteria eats poison, poops out gold

The gold you see in the photo above was not found in a river or a mine. It was produced by a bacteria that, according to researchers at Michigan State University, can survive in extreme toxic environments and create 24-karat gold nuggets. Pure gold.

This scenario may sound like a biochemist’s version of a fairy tale, but it’s real and scientists at McMaster University have just described how the process works in an article published online in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

The bacteria is called Delftia acidovorans, and it turns out that its King Midas-like conversion is part of a self-defense mechanism. Gold ions dissolved in water are toxic, so when the bacteria senses them it releases a protein called delftibactin A.  The protein acts as a shield for the bacteria and changes the poisonous ions into harmless particles that accumulate outside the cells.

Although the amount of gold that Delftia acidovorans release is tiny (the particles are 25-50 nanometers across) it’s possible that the bacteria or the protein could someday be used to dissolve gold from water or to help people identify streams and rivers carrying the mineral.

Maybe this critter can save us all from the global economic crisis?

Of course not—but at least it can make Kazem Kashefi—assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics—and Adam Brown—associate professor of electronic art and intermedia—a bit rich, if only for the show they have put together.

Kashefi and Brown are the ones who have created this compact laboratory that uses the bacteria Cupriavidus metallidurans to turn gold chlroride—a toxic chemical liquid you can find in nature—into 99.9% pure gold.

Accoding to Kashefi, they are doing "microbial alchemy" by "something that has no value into a solid [in fact, it the toxic material they use does cost money. Less than gold, but still plenty], precious metal that's valuable."

The bacteria is incredibly resistant to this toxic element. In fact, it's 25 times stronger than previously thought. The researchers' compact factory—which they named The Great Work of the Metal Lover—holds the bacteria as they feed it the gold chloride. In about a week, the bacteria does its job, processing all that junk into the precious metal—a process they believe happens regularly in nature.

So yes, basically, Cupriavidus metallidurans can eat toxins and poop out gold nuggets.

It seems that medieval alchemists were looking for the Philosopher's Stone—the magic element that could turn lead to gold—in the wrong place. It's not a mineral. It's a bug.

The study was published  online in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

Post a Comment

Vince999 said... August 5, 2016 at 10:57 PM

Gold chloride contains gold ... The only way to turn an element into another is by messing with the nuclear forces inside the atoms.

Unknown said... November 15, 2016 at 10:33 PM

Thanks for pointing that out... Sadly, most of those I know today, even from college, are unaware of this, among many, fundamental principles of nature and science.

Jared Anderson said... February 19, 2017 at 9:12 AM

Thank you for pointing that out.. I was reading the article and the same thing popped in my mind.. is the world really that gullible?

James Mallonee said... February 20, 2017 at 10:51 AM

They've been looking for this at least 20 years based on finding the golden "skeletons" of bacteria on gold flakes. New Science article from 1995: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg14519622-800-search-is-on-for-gold-bacteria/

Unknown said... February 21, 2017 at 7:39 PM

Always beware the "alchemist" scammers...they have been around the entire history of man....especially in the gold mining business.

Rowan Moormann said... March 4, 2017 at 8:30 PM
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Unknown said... March 4, 2017 at 8:35 PM

Those bacteria must have a very advanced tummy! Not a simple acid based as humans have but a nuclear reactor! I just don't believe it.

Rowan Moormann said... March 4, 2017 at 8:36 PM

They have Money coming out of their Associates!lOl

Terbo Ted said... March 5, 2017 at 9:05 PM

but gold chloride costs twice as much as gold...


د سعيد صباغ said... March 8, 2017 at 6:05 AM

wrong explanation. Gold is natural. No One can make it.

davros OfSpyro said... March 13, 2017 at 9:44 PM

This particular bacterium might be a new find but this has been old hat since i was studying microbiology 30 years ago.

James said... September 27, 2017 at 7:01 AM

What amazes me is the number of ignorant people making comments about alchemy. This is basic chemistry people, not alchemy!!! Just because they say the bacteria are "producing" gold this does not mean alchemy. If a news report says ______ is one of the largest gold producers in the world does that mean these producers are using alchemy or a nuclear reactor to produce gold? NO!!!!!! Use your brains people!!!!!

Nanoo Visotor said... December 17, 2017 at 8:31 PM

Recall that GoldFields had a process, but may never have gone beyond preliminary testing.

Earlier cites:
Watterson,John R. “Artifacts resembling budding bacteria produced in placer-gold
amalgams by nitric-acid leaching.” Geology 22, no. 12 (December 1994): 1144-1146.
--------. “Preliminary evidence for the involvement of budding bacteria in

the origin of Alaskan placer gold.” Geology 20, no. 4 (April 1992): 315-318.