Bacteria that can produce gold

  • PTI, Washington
  • |
  • Updated: Oct 04, 2012 10:44 IST

Bacteria that can produce gold

Scientists have discovered a bacteria that has the ability to withstand incredible amounts of toxicity and can be the key to creating 24-carat gold.

Researchers from the Michigan State University have found that the metal-tolerant bacteria ‘Cupriavidus metallidurans’ can grow on massive concentrations of gold chloride or liquid gold, a toxic chemical compound found in nature.

The researchers fed the bacteria unprecedented amounts of gold chloride, mimicking the process they believe happens in nature. In about a week, the bacteria transformed the toxins and produced a gold nugget.

“Microbial alchemy is what we’re doing — transforming gold from something that has no value into a solid, precious metal that’s valuable,” said Kazem Kashefi, assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics in a statement.

In their art installation, The Great Work of the Metal Lover, researchers used a combination of biotechnology, art and alchemy to turn liquid gold into 24-carat gold.

The artwork contained a portable laboratory made of 24-karat gold-plated hardware, a glass bioreactor and the bacteria, a combination that produces gold.

The work is on display at the cyber art competition, Prix Ars Electronica, in Austria.

It would be cost prohibitive to reproduce their experiment on a larger scale. But the researchers’ success in creating gold raises questions about greed, economy and environmental impact.


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