An Aussie gold-digger fungi finds gold and mines it too

An Aussie gold-digger fungi finds gold and mines it too
The Australian rock shown above is a large, nearly four pound mass of gold. The irregularly-distributed, smoothly sculpted surfaces indicate that this is likely a fluvial gold cobble - in other words, it appears to be from a placer deposit.Wikimedia

  • Researchers in Australia have discovered a new type of fungi that can not only detect gold, but pull it onto itself.
  • The gold digging fungi could provide a new way to excavate gold without actually having to drill below the surface.
  • The gold doesn’t just make the fungi shiny but allows it grow faster and spread larger than its counterparts.
Fungi is already known as nature’s great recycler, but a new discovery shows that it could be the new-age gold digger as well. A new type of fungi can draw gold from its surroundings and cover itself in it.

So, not only can it find gold stored deep within the Earth’s pockets, but it can also pull it onto the surface without human intervention.

An Aussie gold-digger fungi finds gold and mines it too
Fungi absorbing gold from under the Earth's surfaceCISRO

Fungi can oxidise tiny particles of gold and precipitate it on their strands – this cycling process may contribute to how gold and other elements are distributed around the Earth's surface.

Tsing Bohu, lead author of the study

And, it’s not just for show. The gold-coated fungi grows faster and spreads farther than ordinary fungi found in the same region of Western Australia.

Fusarium oxysporum, the fungi, uses its strands to dissolve any gold that it comes in contact with. Tsing Bohu, the lead researcher of the study published in Nature Communications agrees, "Gold is so chemically inactive that this interaction is both unusual and surprising - it had to be seen to be believed."

Shiny but mysterious

Researchers from the Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), may have found the fungi, but they’re still trying to understand how it does, and what it does.

Gold-coated fungi discovered in Western Australia from CSIRO on Vimeo.

What they do know for sure is that this fungi can be used to go gold digging — and it’s all natural.

We want to understand if the fungi we studied.... can be used in combination with these exploration tools to help the industry to target prospective areas.

Dr. Ravi Anand, CSIRO Chief Research Scientist

Gold digging fungi

Ravi Anand, the Chief Research Scientist at CSIRO, explains that natural methods to hunt for gold are already being used in the field — but it’s restricted to detecting where gold could be stored.

Understanding how the fungi works could yield a new way that would be more cost-effective and less impactful than having to actually drill below the surface.

See also:
Humans are made of gold — silver and platinum too

The 10 countries with the biggest piles of gold

Warren Buffett bashes gold, says the 'magical metal was no match for the American mettle'