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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Solid Gold, Thanks to Bacteria
3 September 2010 1:53 pm
Treasure hunters may have an unexpected ally in bacteria. The secret lies in a thin layer of microbes, known as a biofilm, that researchers found enveloping gold grains in a Queensland mine. The biofilm dissolves the gold on contact, creating toxic gold ions that can break down the bacteria's cell walls. But the bacteria fight back by transforming the ions into metallic gold nanoparticles that later coalesce into lace-like crystals across the surface. This form of gold is much purer than the original gold grains, which also contain silver and mercury, and is thus much more attractive to miners, the team reports this month in Geology. The researchers speculate if they could genetically modify the bacteria to fluoresce when they purify the gold, the bugs could become something even more important: Microbial metal detectors.
See more ScienceShots.