Scientists accidentally discovered a bacteria that eats metal

Microbiologists California Institute of technology discovered an unusual bacteria that feed on manganese, the existence of which was predicted over a century ago.

The study showed that bacteria use manganese to convert CO2 into biomass. This process is called chemosynthesis. Scientists had been aware of the existence of bacteria and fungi can oxidize manganese or to deprive it of electrons. On this basis, they suggested that there may be unknown microbes using this process for their growth.

One of the participants of research, Professor Jared Leadbetter found chemosynthetic bacteria on a glass jar, which he forgot to wash before leaving, after which she lay for several months until his return.

The attention of Ledbetter attracted an unusual black patina on the pot, which proved to be oxide of manganese, produced by unidentified bacteria, which, apparently, came to the surface with tap water.

Manganese is one of the most spread chemical elements. Oxides of manganese (MnO2) represent the dark lumpy substance that is found in soil sediments and in water distribution systems.

The research results will help to understand the formation of a special manganese formations of nodules which cover a significant portion of the seabed. These spherical formations, sometimes reaching the size of a grapefruit was first described in the 70-ies of the XIX century. In recent years, mining companies are developing plans of their prey, since they may contain rare metals.

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