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This fungus can collect gold and precipitate onto its surface

Scientists discover fungus that can collect gold

Australian scientists discovered a new way to find soiled gold, but it’s not a chemical or a tool. It’s a fungus that interacts with gold in an unexpected way, so this might be a clue for miners to find new gold deposits more effectively and environmentally friendly.

A team of scientists conducting research in Perth, Western Australia, discovered a unique fungus called Fusarium Oxysporum near Boddington. This discovery was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Oxysporum can attach gold particles to its spindly strands by dissolving its surroundings. The research also highlights, how the fungus could help miners to find new gold deposits and recover gold from waste products like sewage and electronics.

Scientists are still studying why the fungus interacts with gold and how this interaction could indicate larger gold deposits underground.

Fusarium oxysporum
This is what Fusarium Oxysporum looks like (Ecole PEG)

How the Fungus Collects Gold

The fungus releases a chemical that dissolves gold in the soil around it. The gold then reforms on the fungus’s strands, creating tiny, nanoscale particles of solid gold.

Researchers observed that gold-coated fungi grew larger and spread faster than those that don’t interact with the precious metal. They have predicted that the process allows the fungus to grow faster and larger, possibly because the gold helps it digest certain carbon foods more efficiently.

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Diagram on how Fusarium Oxysporum draws gold from its surrounding (CSIRO)

Potential Uses for Gold-Coated Fungi

This discovery has exciting potential uses in gold mining. Researchers hope that the fungus can be used to locate new gold deposits underground.

Currently, miners use methods like sampling gum leaves and termite mounds to find traces of gold. Adding fungi to this toolkit could make the process more effective and environmentally friendly.

Broader Implications for Science and Industry

The discovery of gold-coated fungi suggests that sampling soil fungi for precious minerals could provide valuable data for identifying new areas of mineralization. This could help ensure ongoing gold production in Australia, the world’s second-largest gold producer.

Scientists continue to study why the fungus interacts with gold and whether this interaction indicates larger gold deposits below the surface. This ongoing research aims to combine fungi with other exploration tools to target prospective areas more effectively and cost-efficiently.


Featured image credits: Wikipedia, Create


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