Abstract: Microbial communities mediating gold cycling occur on gold grains from (sub)-tropical, (semi)-arid, temperate and subarctic environments. The majority of identified species comprising these biofilms are β-Proteobacteria. Some bacteria, e.g., Cupriavidus metallidurans, Delftia acidovorans and Salmonella typhimurium, have developed biochemical responses to deal with highly toxic gold complexes. These include gold specific sensing and efflux, co-utilization of resistance mechanisms for other metals, and excretion of gold-complex-reducing siderophores that ultimately catalyze the biomineralization of nano-particulate, spheroidal and/or bacteriomorphic gold. In turn, the toxicity of gold complexes fosters the development of specialized biofilms on gold grains, and hence the cycling of gold in surface environments. This was not reported on isoferroplatinum grains under most near-surface environments, due to the lower toxicity of mobile platinum complexes. The discovery of gold-specific microbial responses can now drive the development of geobiological exploration tools, e.g., gold bioindicators and biosensors. Bioindicators employ genetic markers from soils and groundwaters to provide information about gold mineralization processes, while biosensors will allow in-field analyses of gold concentrations in complex sampling media.
Keywords: gold; bacteria; cycling; biomineralization; review; exploration; bioindicator; biosensor
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Reith, F.; Brugger, J.; Zammit, C.M.; Nies, D.H.; Southam, G. Geobiological Cycling of Gold: From Fundamental Process Understanding to Exploration Solutions. Minerals 2013, 3, 367-394.
Reith F, Brugger J, Zammit CM, Nies DH, Southam G. Geobiological Cycling of Gold: From Fundamental Process Understanding to Exploration Solutions. Minerals. 2013; 3(4):367-394.
Reith, Frank; Brugger, Joël; Zammit, Carla M.; Nies, Dietrich H.; Southam, Gordon. 2013. "Geobiological Cycling of Gold: From Fundamental Process Understanding to Exploration Solutions." Minerals 3, no. 4: 367-394.