A researcher at Caltech recently stumbled upon a metal-based bacterium,media BGR reported. Jared Leadbetter, a professor of environmental microbiology at the California Institute of Technology, soaked a dirty glass jar in an office sink and left for months while conducting a manganese experiment. When he came back, the jar looked completely different.
As described in a research press release, the jar was “coated with a dark layer of material.” Not knowing exactly what it was, Leadbetter decided to examine it in more detail. “I was thinking, ‘What is that?'” Leadbetter said. “I began to wonder if the long-sought microbes were likely to cause it, so we systematically tested it to get to the bottom of it.”
It turned out that the manganese left on the dirty jars had been oxidized and consumed by microscopic bacteria, apparently from tap water soaked in jars. Although there has been a great deal of research on bacteria, no one has ever observed a true metal-based bacterium until now. The study was published in the journal Nature.
More interestingly, the bacteria may be responsible for a problem observed by the water distribution system, and similar oxidations have been observed in the drinking water distribution system, although some scientists theoretically believe that bacteria may be responsible, but they have not yet proved this.
“There is a comprehensive set of environmental engineering literature on the blockage of manganese oxides in the drinking water distribution system,” Leadbetter said in a statement. “But how and for what reason the substance came into being has been a mystery. Obviously, many scientists have considered the possible reason for bacteria using manganese as energy, but until now there has been no evidence to support this idea. “
In addition, Leadbetter and his team speculate that similar bacteria may be the cause of large metal “nodules” observed in the Earth’s oceans. They were discovered as early as the 1870s, but no one knows what led to their creation. The researchers say the bacteria may have been the builders of these singular features of the ocean floor.