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October 5 2012
It was the alchemical quest that was midwife to the birth of modern science: how to transform common elements into precious gold.
Now researchers have found a bacterium that could fit the bill as a modern day philosophers' stone, by turning a toxic chemical compound found in nature into solid, 24-carat gold.
A team from Michigan State University discovered that the metal-tolerant bacteria Cupriavidus metallidurans can grow on massive concentrations of gold chloride, which is deadly to other creatures.
They found that the tiny bugs can transform the toxic substance to produce gold nuggets.
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