Fungi could offer clues for finding new gold deposits

A type of fungi that looks like a thread could offer clues for finding new gold deposits.

According to scientists at Australia's national science agency CSIRO, fungi known as Fusarium oxsporum attach gold to their strands by dissolving and precipitating particles from their surroundings.

"Fungi can oxidise tiny particles of gold and precipitate it on their strands – this cycling process may contribute to [understanding] how gold and other elements are distributed around the Earth's surface," Tsing Bohu, the researcher who led the study, said in a media statement.

Bohu also said that even though fungi are well-known for playing an essential role in the cycling of aluminium, iron, manganese and calcium, gold is so chemically inactive that this recently-discovered interaction is both unusual and surprising.

Coloured image of the gold-coated Fusarium oxsporum fungi. Image by Australia's national science agency CSIRO.

The scientist and his team are undertaking further analysis and modelling to understand why the fungi are interacting with gold, and whether or not, it is an indication of a larger deposit below the surface.

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