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Aug 9 / Dave Schumaker

Bacterial Alchemy!

Gold NuggetScientists in Australia have discovered that certain types of bacteria play a very important role in the formation of secondary gold grains (and helping to intitiate the precipitation of gold from solution).

Dr. Frank Reith analyzed bacteria found among the gold grains and in solutions from the Hit or Miss Mine in Queensland, Australia and discovered 30 unique species that were significantly different from bacteria found in the surrounding soil. When Dr. Reith placed one species of bacteria, Ralstonia metallidurans, in a petri dish, he was able to observe the gold precipitating from solution.

As the article notes, this may have some benefits to the mineral exploration industries since current models relating to gold deposits do not account for the precipitation of gold from a solution due to biological activity. Also, see this Science Daily article from May, 2002 about how bacteria could possibly be used to find gold deposits.

In other news relating to bacteria, geology and various elements, Science Daily is reporting on a new study by the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory that shows the bacteria Shewanella oneidensis is able to chemically modify uranium by covering it in a “special goo,” making it much safer to store. Rather interesting read.

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