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Genetically modified bacteria and yeast can make gold, pharmaceutical compounds and fuels.

March 29, 2013

When Michigan State University artist Adam Brown learned of a type of bacteria, Cupriavidus metallidurans, that can extract pure gold from the toxic solution gold chloride (a totally artificial salt), he hurried to an expert colleague, microbiologist Kazem Kashefi, with a question: “Is it possible to make enough gold to put in the palm of my hand?” Brown merely wanted to satisfy his intellectual and artistic curiosity, inspired by the gold-tinted roots of alchemy, the precursor of modern chemistry.

Soon thereafter, Kashefi and Brown set to work designing a half-experiment, half-art-exhibit that exposes C. metallidurans to gold chloride in a hydrogen-gas-rich atmosphere that serves as a source of food. Over the course of a week, the bacteria gradually strip-mined the toxic liquid, leaving flecks of pure 24-karat gold behind.

The inefficient technique won’t supplant traditional mining, but the idea of using microbes as production facilities for a range of rare and difficult-to-produce materials has been gaining traction over the past several years.

Excerpt from an article written by Gregory Mone at Discover. Continue HERE

Escherichia coli. Science Photo Library/Pennsylvania State University

One comment

  1. I like this! thanks for shar



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