Evidence for fungi and gold redox interaction under Earth surface conditions

Journal: Nature Communications

Published: 2019-05-23

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-10006-5

Affiliations: 6

Authors: 12

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Research Highlight

Fungi with a penchant for gold

© Ekaterina Smirnova/Getty

© Ekaterina Smirnova/Getty

A fungus that gathers gold from the soil to adorn its surface could help miners prospect for the precious metal.

Fungi help cycle many metals such as aluminium, iron and magnesium at the Earth’s surface through their influence on soil processes, but little is known about their interactions with chemically inactive gold.

A team that included researchers from Curtin University studied the pink fungus Fusarium oxysporum, gathered from a gold-mining region in Western Australia.

Electron microscopy images revealed that the fungus had gold particles spread across its surface. The fungus gathers gold flakes from its surroundings, oxidizes them, and then solidifies the tiny gold particles on its surface.

The team grew F. oxysporum in soils spiked with different quantities of gold and found that fungal diversity and size increased with increasing gold content.

This fungus could be a natural signpost to gold, reducing the cost and environmental impacts of prospecting through excessive drilling.

Supported content

  1. Nature Communications 10, 2290 (2019). doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-10006-5
Institutions Share
Australian Resources Research Centre (ARRC), Australia 0.50
Curtin University, Australia 0.25
CSIRO Land and Water, Australia 0.17
The University of Western Australia (UWA), Australia 0.04
Murdoch University, Australia 0.04