Metal-eating Bacteria Discovered By Scientists, Feeds on Manganese to Get its Fuel

Image for representative purpose only.

Image for representative purpose only.

When the bacteria come in contact with trace amounts of manganese metal, they tend to give out protons. This leads to oxidising, eventually leading to the formation of a substance called manganese oxide.

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  • Last Updated: July 17, 2020, 10:41 AM IST

It is perhaps hard to imagine that something as minuscule as bacteria can feed on a substance as strong as a metal. In a recent study, it has been found that a certain bacteria feed on Manganese.

According to a report published in RT.com, this finding has been made by microbiologists from the California Institute of Technology.

It must be noted that manganese is a very abundantly available element on the planet. The study is titled ‘Bacterial chemolithoautotrophy via manganese oxidation’.

Jared Leadbetter, co-author of the study, mentioned that this is the first bacteria which consumes manganese to get its fuel.

The theory behind this is that when the bacteria come in contact with trace amounts of metal, they tend to give out protons. This leads to oxidising, eventually leading to the formation of a substance called manganese oxide.

As per the research, this type of bacteria uses manganese for something called chemosynthesis. This is basically a process that converts carbon dioxide into biomass.

According to lead researcher, Jared, this is not the only type of bacteria that consumes metal. He said, “There is evidence that relatives of these creatures reside in groundwater, and a portion of Pasadena’s drinking water is pumped from local aquifers”.

Emphasising on a unique tendency of these microorganisms, the co-author of the study stated: “A wonderful aspect of microbes in nature is that they can metabolize seemingly unlikely materials, like metals, yielding energy useful to the cell.”



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