These bacteria literally poop gold. Researchers are studying a metal-eating bacterium name Cupriavidus Metallidurans that can ingest toxic metal compounds, survive the negative effects and produce small nuggets of gold. The key to the bacteria’s’ mechanism is its home. It lives in soil containing a variety of toxic metals, which make it difficult for other organisms to live. The bacteria protect themselves using enzymes that move the toxic metals out of cells within its body.
Many of these toxic metals contain gold ions, which are very difficult to convert into usable ore. An enzyme called CopA Converts the metals into a form the cells can’t absorb, allowing it to pass the residual gold through its body. The bacterium has been known to poop gold since 2009, but the team just cracked the method behind it all, helping us understand gold’s biogeochemical cycle. And now we can hopefully use the same process to garner precious metals from non-rich ore.