MICROBIOLOGY: Biomineralization of Gold

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Science  03 Jan 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5603, pp. 19a
DOI: 10.1126/science.299.5603.19a

Ions of precious metals such as gold, silver, and platinum, as well as mercury, have high electrochemical potentials and are easily reduced and tend to precipitate on the surfaces of and within thiol-rich bacterial cells. For metal bioremediation purposes, planktonic bacteria are not ideal for concentrating metals.

Karthikeyan and Beveridge have looked at the potential of Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms for gold recovery. The pillar and pore architecture of these biofilms allows a high fluid flow and strong redox gradients to form, thus promoting the concentration and deposition of metal colloids in the biofilm matrix. Moreover, the biofilm helps to protect the bacteria against the toxic properties of the gold salts, much as it protects them against the effects of antibiotics. — CA

Acknowledgments

Environ. Microbiol. 4, 667 (2002).

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