Okay, get into this one BUZZ Fam; scientists have discovered a type of bacteria that eats and gets its calories from metal. It was a discovery Microbiologists from the California Institute of Technology (or Caltech) completely by accident, but it doesn’t make it any less weird does it?
The discovery was made after performing unrelated experiments using a chalk-like type of manganese, a commonly found chemical element.
Dr. Jared Leadbetter, professor of environmental microbiology at Caltech in Pasadena, left a glass jar covered with the substance to soak in tap water in his office sink and left the vessel for several months when he went to work off-campus. When he returned, Leadbetter found the jar coated with dark material, and you can imagine the professor was shocked.
“I thought, what is that?’ ” Leadbetter explained in a press release. “I started to wonder if long-sought-after microbes might be responsible, so we systematically performed tests to figure that out.”
That’s when the researchers found that the black coating found on the jar was oxidized manganese which had been generated by newly discovered bacteria most likely found in the tap water.
“There is evidence that relatives of these creatures reside in groundwater, and a portion of Pasadena’s drinking water is pumped from local aquifers,” he said.
“These are the first bacteria found to use manganese as their source of fuel,” Leadbetter said. “A wonderful aspect of microbes in nature is that they can metabolize seemingly unlikely materials, like metals, yielding energy useful to the cell.”