Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The Midas Bug - the bacterial alchemy of gold

02.08.2006
Bacteria play an important role in the formation of gold nuggets in Australia according to new research published this month in the international journal, Science today.

The paper highlights the findings of a Cooperative Research Centre for Landscape Environments and Mineral Exploration (CRC LEME) project by CSIRO researcher, Dr Frank Reith.

Dr Reith’s research has shown that bacteria play a significant role in the formation of secondary gold grains.

His study of gold grains from the Tomakin Park and Hit or Miss gold mines in southern New South Wales and northern Queensland, respectively, led to a series of discoveries, which showed that specific bacteria present on these gold grains precipitate gold from solution.

“The origin of secondary gold grains is a controversial topic that is widely debated within the scientific community,” Dr Reith said.

“There are those who believe the grains are purely detrital, while others believe they form by chemical accretion.

“A third theory suggest that microbial processes are involved in gold grain formation which may be responsible for one of the largest gold deposits in the world, the Witwatersrand deposit in South Africa.”

Applying molecular biology techniques, Dr Reith discovered a living biofilm on the surface of gold grains collected. DNA profiling of this biofilm identified 30 bacterial species with populations unique to the gold grains when compared to the surrounding soils.

One species was identified on all of the DNA-positive gold grains from both locations. DNA sequence analysis of this species identified it as the bacterium Ralstonia metallidurans.

“The next step was to see if we could observe gold precipitation in the presence of a culture of this bacteria,” Dr Reith said.

“By placing a culture of the R. metallidurans in the presence of dissolved gold, which is highly toxic to microorgansims, I observed active gold precipitation.

“A unique attribute of R. metallidurans is that it is able to survive in concentrations of gold that would kill most other micro-organisms.”

This research has significance for the mineral exploration industry – as current models of gold formation do not include a biological mechanism.

“There may be new opportunities for the bio-processing of gold ores now that we have discovered bacteria that precipitants gold out of solution,” Dr Reith said.

Klaus Regenauer-Lieb | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.csiro.au

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The body's street sweepers
18.12.2017 | Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

nachricht Life on the edge prepares plants for climate change
18.12.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Error-free into the Quantum Computer Age

A study carried out by an international team of researchers and published in the journal Physical Review X shows that ion-trap technologies available today are suitable for building large-scale quantum computers. The scientists introduce trapped-ion quantum error correction protocols that detect and correct processing errors.

In order to reach their full potential, today’s quantum computer prototypes have to meet specific criteria: First, they have to be made bigger, which means...

Im Focus: Search for planets with Carmenes successful

German and Spanish researchers plan, build and use modern spectrograph

Since 2016, German and Spanish researchers, among them scientists from the University of Göttingen, have been hunting for exoplanets with the “Carmenes”...

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

The body's street sweepers

18.12.2017 | Life Sciences

Fast flowing heat in layered material heterostructures

18.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

Life on the edge prepares plants for climate change

18.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>