gold_poo
LE Neige

Researchers in Canada have discovered a bacterium that excretes solid gold. Which means we’re all gonna be rich! Everybody run out and get some Delftia acidovorans, so you can add to the emergency stash of precious metal that you keep under your basement stairs in case of economic collapse!

OK, now that we’ve gotten rid of the Ron Paul types, I can tell you that unfortunately D. acidovorans poops solid gold because it eats ions of gold that are dissolved in water. In other words, gold is conserved in this scenario, and we wind up no richer, though still better off since the gold-hoarders will all be up in Canada trying to catch germs.

What’s surprising about all this is that soluble gold is supposed to be toxic, but it doesn’t seem to faze D. acidovorans. As it turns out, the bacterium seems to secrete a metabolizing molecule that protects it against gold’s toxic effects. This Midas molecule is also responsible for amalgamating the poisonous ions into particles of gold. And, if we’re very lucky, responsible for a new gold rush featuring grizzled prospectors with big beards and suspenders and microscopes. Because that would be hilarious.