The bug that lays the golden egg



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Tuesday 5 February 2013

Last update 4 February 2013 11:38 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

ONTARIO: Among the more peculiar organisms that inhabit our Earth exists a bacterium that turns water-soluble gold into microscopic nuggets of solid gold, scientists said on Sunday.
Chemists have often pondered why the germ Delftia acidovorans is frequently found on the surface of tiny gold nuggets.
Its presence led scientists to speculate it may be creating the particles from soluble gold — ions of gold that are dissolved in water.
But the puzzle was how D. acidovorans did this trick, as soluble gold is toxic. The answer, suggest researchers in Canada, lies in a molecule excreted by the microbe that both shields the organism and transforms the poisonous ions into particles.
“This finding is the first demonstration that a secreted metabolite can protect against toxic gold and cause gold biomineralization,” the process by which living organisms produce minerals, they wrote in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.
The molecule, delftibactin A, is capable of achieving this feat within seconds in pH-neutral conditions at room temperature.
Study co-author Nathan Magarvey of Ontario’s McMaster University told AFP the study was not designed to show whether it would be viable to use germs to grow gold from water in the lab.
But such processes seem “distinctly possible,” he said in an e-mail exchange. Previous research had shown that another bacterium found on gold, Ischiadicus metallidurans, deals with toxicity by storing the ions inside its cells.
Bacteria need some metals, such as iron, to grow, whereas others, like silver, will kill them.
Soluble gold, invisible in a glass of water, is found in the ocean, groundwater and other natural water sources. Solid gold is mainly formed through geological processes in large veins underground.
Magarvey said the study may implicate D. acidovorans in secondary deposits such as nuggets found in rivers.
The bacterium, he added, is not found only on gold but also in the soil and in water. Still unclear, though, is what the organism feeds on.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: The Saudi led-coalition fighting to reinstate Yemen’s exiled government aims first to set it up in Aden and then return it to Sanaa if possible via peace talks with Houthi foes, a coalition spokesman said.But if the Iranian-allied Houthis did...
RIYADH: Nine Omani Umrah pilgrims, on their way back home, were killed and 34 were injured, in a road accident which took place near Khurais, between Riyadh and Al-Ahsa province.According to police, the coach carrying the pilgrims collided with a tra...
JEDDAH: The Kingdom and Namibia have signed a protocol to establish diplomatic relations between them.According to SPA, the protocol was signed on Tuesday by Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations Abdullah Al-Mouallimi and his...
JEDDAH: Official reports reveal nationalization levels of medical and health workers in the Kingdom remain low, with Saudi nationals making up only 21.7 percent of physicians, 31.8 percent of nurses, and 67.4 percent of ancillary staff.According to t...
JEDDAH: The Saudi Food and Drugs Authority (SFDA) will begin receiving clearance applications for medicines and medical supplies, including drugs containing narcotic or psychotropic substances, for Haj missions or other government bodies on Saturday....
JEDDAH: Saudi importers of cattle said the Haj season this year will not see an increase in the price of livestock due to the stability of the local market and the available supply.There are also guarantees from exporting countries that required quan...
JEDDAH: At the upcoming elections the national identity card will be the only approved document used for identifying voters of both genders and allowing voters to exercise their electoral right, provided all statutory requirements are met.In a press...
JEDDAH: Education Minister Azzam Al-Dakhil has spoken of a new education policy which emphasizes the importance of harmonizing admission policies in universities with the needs of the labor market.Al-Dakhil made these remarks during a meeting with un...
JEDDAH: Local bottled water consumption during the summer, Umrah and Haj seasons this year will increase by 10 percent.“This translates into an annual growth rate of between 4 percent and 5 percent,” Rashed Bin-Zouma, a water industry expert, was qu...
RIYADH: Four Saudi secondary students including a young woman from the Eastern Province have received prestigious medals at the 47th International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO), which concluded in Azerbaijan last week.The winners of the four bronze medal...
JEDDAH: The UAE’s decision to lift fuel subsidies beginning in August has raised the possibility of other Gulf states following suit.Economists suggest a wide disparity of prices of gasoline in the Gulf countries will lead to more petrol smuggling op...
DAMMAM: The tourism industry in the Kingdom is witnessing great interest by authorities to develop the archaeological areas, promote their support services and create the best environment for tourism products, said businessman Abdul Mohsen Al-Hokair....
JEDDAH: The ongoing World Circus at north Obhur has brought smiles on the faces of orphans, with its show of acrobats featuring 20 performers and clowns.The orphans of Al-Rawdah district charitable organization said they found the circus entertaining...
RIYADH: The Nepalese ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Udayaraj Pandey, thanked the Kingdom on Thursday as he ends his four-year tour of duty in Saudi Arabia.Earlier in the day, he called on Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar to pay him a courtesy call a...
RIYADH: Movies produced by young and amateur Saudi filmmakers will be shown on Saudi Television starting in the middle of next week.“The films will be shown daily to encourage young Saudi filmmakers,” said Abdulaziz Fahad Al-Eid, senior broadcaster a...

Stay Connected

Facebook