Biologists accidentally find the first microorganisms that use pure metal as an energy source.
A team of researchers at the California Institute of Technology conducted experiments with a light, chalk-like form of manganese. One of the scientists flooded the sample with tap water and forgot about it. When he returned to the glass jar a couple of months later, he noticed a dark film that shouldn’t have been..
After analyzing the film, microbiologists found that it consists of manganese oxide, created by bacteria that lived in water and fed on metal..
The researchers concluded that they had found new chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms that mutated in the blockages of water distribution systems., whose relatives live in underground waters.
They can be potentially harmful to the health of immunocompromised people because manganese is also present in our bodies. The solution to deal with them can be previously developed filtration antibacterial membranes of nanocellulose and graphene.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: Caltech