Know the secret behind-bacteria that makes gold from toxins

Know the secret behind bacteria that makes gold from toxins

New Delhi, February 07: A team of Australia-Germany based researchers have uncovered the secret behind a bacteria’s capacity to turn toxic metals into pure gold.

The researchers had discovered the rod-shaped bacterium C. metallidurans, which is  is able to deposit gold biologically, back in 2009 and they were engaged in studies to find out the process that goes behind turning toxic substances to gold for the past 8 years.

They have found that high concentrations of heavy metals, which is harmful for other living creatures, is not toxic  for the bacterium C. metallidurans. It, in fact, consumes the toxic metals and converts it to gold without poisoning itself.

Researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the University of Adelaide in Australia have discovered the molecular processes that take place inside the bacteria.

The bacterium C. metallidurans primarily lives in soils that are abundant with traces of metal ores. The minerals in the soil naturally breaks down, releasing Hydrogen and toxic heavy metals into the environment. Traces of gold compounds and copper were found in the soil where bacterium C. metallidurans thrives. When the copper and gold particles enters the bacteria’s body, a range of chemical processes occur: Copper, is converted to a form that is considerably easier for the bacterium to import and the same happens to the gold compounds. Together the metals reach the interior of the cell and then the bacteria secretes enzyme CupA.

The enzyme catalyses the conversion of gold compounds and copper into gold nuggets.