Researchers in Australia have uncovered evidence that a tiny microbe may have the Midas touch of Greek legend, capable of turning dust to gold. Findings reported in the July 14 issue of the U.S.-based magazine Science suggest a bacteria known as Ralstonia metallidurans may play a key role in forming gold nuggets and grains. A group of scientists led by German-born researcher Frank Reith collected gold grains from two Australian mines more than 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) apart, and discovered that 80 percent of the grains had the bacteria living on them. ”What we found out suggests that bacteria can accumulate this gold,” Reith told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from his Australian office on Friday. Reith said Ralstonia metallidurans act as microscopic soil scrubbers, soaking up heavy metals in their dissolved form and converting them into less toxic, solid forms. ”Heavy metals are toxic, not only to us but also to microorganisms, in elevated concentrations,” he said. ”It appears to be that the organism can detoxify its immediate environment of this toxic mobile gold and in this way gain a metabolic advantage,” he said. ”That’s why it would be present on these […]

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