The Man with the gold bug, aka Dr Frank Reith has been making some fascinating discoveries about the bugs that live on gold and platinum. His research, recently published in Nature Geoscience could provide a host of applications in the mineral exploration and bioremediation fields.
The biomineralisation of metals is not a new phenomenon, however it was previously thought that it did not take place in metals such as gold and platinum because not only are they rare and inert, but they are not micronutrients per say.
The organisms that live on the surface of gold, through mobilising the heavy metals via biochemical reaction pathways provide a defence mechanism against other organisms that find the metal solution toxic. Through cultivation of these biofilms, and identification of proteins that are specific to the biochemical reaction pathways involving gold, a unique biosensor has emerged.
The research underpinning this potential biosensor is now at the heart of a patent application. The biosensor and the associated research could have far reaching and innovative applications including exploration and bioremediation.
Dr Frank Reith spoke with Ewart Shaw from Radio Adelaide about his research.
Reith’s research has been funded by linkage grants that connect mining companies to his work, and one such mine is Prophet Gold Mine. In the video below, John Parsons talks about his involvement with the research and how it could impact the future of mining.
You can find out more about The Man With the Gold Bug and Dr Frank Reith’s research on his blog.