If the goose that laid the golden egg had a real-life counterpart, it would be C. metallidurans. This hardy little bacterium consumes toxic metals and excretes tiny gold nuggets, but how and why it does so has never been fully understood. Now, German and Australian researchers have peered inside the microorganism and figured out that mechanism.
The researchers, from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the University of Adelaide, have now identified just how it does that. C. metallidurans needs copper to live, and to extract that trace element from its surroundings the bacteria converts it into a form that’s easier to “import.”