Metal-Eating Bacteria Stumbled upon by Stroke of Luck

New-found Micro-organism deriving nutrients from metal discovered.

Source: Hang Yu/Caltech

When a Microbiologist asks;

“What rules the world?” The correct reply should be “Microorganisms”. Indeed, these invisible creatures through their unseen hands determines whether the world would continue to exist or not, No blasphemy intended.

“What rules the world?” The correct reply should be “Microorganisms”

Of these microorganisms, one if the most diversified is bacteria. They are part if our everyday activities providing a sort of natural balance to our body, although it is very common for an imbalance to occur when our immunity level gets compromised mostly as a result of infection.  

Microbiologists from Caltech have uncovered a certain kind of  bacteria that feed on manganese. The team of scientist said they had no plans to directly study this bacteria. They were carrying out investigative procedures on manganese when they stumbled upon this special bacteria. initially carrying out experiments with the element itself when they stumbled upon the bacteria.

Jared Leadbetter, professor of environmental biology at California Institute of Technology came out to clarify in his words that,

“These are the first bacteria found to use manganese as their source of fuel,”. It is unusual for bacteria to opt for metals to furnish their nutritional needs.

The results obtained from the experiment was publicized in journal Nature.

Scanning electron micrograph of manganese oxide nodules

A Stroke Of Luck.

The discovery of the yet to be named microbe has been tagged an accidental one with Professor Leadbetter, who working with post-doctoral scholar Hang Yu, disclosed that

discovering the bacteria was a struck of Luck, using ‘a light, chalk-like form of manganese.’ He merely had left a glass jar enclosed with the element soaking in tap water. When he returned several months after, ‘the jar was coated with a dark material.’

“I thought, ‘What is that?'” he explains. “I began to think that it was the long-sought-after microbes might be responsible, so we methodologically carried out tests to figure it out.”

What really Caused the clogging?

The dark coating turned out to be oxidized manganese produced by the bacteria very much likely living in the tap water. Leadbetter arrived at this opinion based on the confirmation that relatives of the microbes live in groundwater.  

We need not bother ourselves about what is clogging up our sink anymore. As it is presumably not our leftovers but chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms.

Manganese are  located in subsurface residues and can accumulate in water dispensing systems, which is the most logical explanation for a clog in water flow when they are oxidized and brings about the novel bacteria.

5 comments

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