Say It: Cupriavidus Metallidurans

My Dad would have loved to see this if he were still around. His favorite saying? “Another twenty bucks? Let me go out back and s..t some more money.”  We now have gold-pooping bacteria…it consumes a toxic metal to produce pure gold.

Before you grab your lab coat and rush out to nab some of the bacteria, stop. It is about as rare as the precious metal itself. And if you’re thinking you can duplicate the reaction in your basement using your gold jewelry, think again. The bacteria is grown on large concentrations of gold chloride — the toxic metal in question — also known as liquid gold.

Michigan State University announced on Oct. 1 that Associate Professor of electronic art and intermedia Adam Brown and his colleague, Assistant Professor of microbiology and molecular genetics Kazem Kashefi had found that the metal-tolerant bacteria could grow in the highly toxic environment. The process, according to Kashefi, is called “microbial alchemy,” and it’s on display in an art installation called “The Great Work of the Metal Lover.”

Slate has produced a video explaining how the super-strong bacteria Cupriavidus metallidurans goes about its precious dirty business:


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