Now we know how bacteria changes ions into solid gold. Is it possible? Yes, it is.
The bacteria is called Delftia acidovorans, and it turns out that its King Midas-like conversion is part of a self-defense mechanism. Gold ions dissolved in water are toxic, so when the bacteria senses them it releases a protein called delftibactin A. The protein acts as a shield for the bacteria and changes the poisonous ions into harmless particles that accumulate outside the cells.
Although the amount of gold that Delftia acidovorans release is tiny (the particles are 25-50 nanometers across) it’s possible that the bacteria or the protein could someday be used to dissolve gold from water or to help people identify streams and rivers carrying the mineral.
The study was about ‘Gold biomineralization by a metallophore from a gold-associated microbe’. Here is the details.
Mythical King Midas was ultimately doomed because everything he touched turned to gold. Now, the reverse has been found in bacteria that owe their survival to a natural Midas touch.
Bacteria protects itself by turning it’s environment to gold or simply say bacteria produces gold. It sounds weird. But it is nice to see some weird things happened in our lifetime. It is like someone has found the real Eldorado.
People in the Indian subcontinent are crazy for gold. They must be very happy now because bacteria-produced-pure-gold will be much cheaper than the gold available in the market. I don’t think their dreams will ever, oops, soon come true.