Like something out of a fairytale, there’s a bacteria called Cupriavidus metallidurans that excretes gold nuggets.
Imagine laying copper and gold nuggets each time you go to the bathroom. Well, the bacteria Cupriavidus metallidurans does.
Living in soils rich in toxics metals, Cupriavidus metallidurans eats them, takes the good, and excretes the bad – in this case copper and gold.
— The Life Pile (@thelifepile) February 15, 2018
While needing copper to survive, large quantities of both metals is very toxic to the bacterium. When too much copper is present in its diet, it produces a special enzyme called CupA, that helps it pump out all the excess copper.
However, when gold is present, Cupriavidus metallidurans makes another enzyme, CopA, which makes the compounds hard to absorb.
By doing this, the bacterium ensures that copper and gold compounds do not enter the insides of the sells, leaving pieces of gold lying just outside.
— The Life Pile (@thelifepile) February 14, 2018
As it might seem, anyone who owns a piece of land rich in Cupriavidus metallidurans is sitting on a fortune. But in reality, the nuggets are only a few nanometers in size and have no real value.
The bacterium is believed to be responsible for deposits of secondary gold, which are formed from breaking down ancient ores.