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The immobilization of gold from gold (III) chloride by a halophilic sulphate-reducing bacterial consortium

By
Jeremiah Shuster
Jeremiah Shuster
Department of Earth Sciences, The University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada N6A 5B7
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Sian Marsden
Sian Marsden
Department of Geological Sciences, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 3N6
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Lachlan C. W. Maclean
Lachlan C. W. Maclean
Canadian Light Source Inc., University of Saskatchewan, SK, Canada S7N 0X4
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James Ball
James Ball
Physics Department, John F. Ross Collegiate Vocational Institute, Guelph, ON, Canada N1E 4H1
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Trudy Bolin
Trudy Bolin
CMC-XOR-Sector 9, Advanced Photon Source, Argonne Laboratory, Argonne, IL 60439, USA
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Gordon Southam
Gordon Southam
School of Earth Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia
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Published:
January 01, 2015

Abstract

A consortium containing halophilic, dissimilatory sulphate-reducing bacteria was enriched from Basque Lake #1, located near Ashcroft, British Columbia, Canada to evaluate the role these bacteria have on the immobilization of soluble gold. The consortium immobilized increasing amounts of gold from gold (III) chloride solutions, under saline to hypersaline conditions, over time. Gold (III) chloride was reduced to elemental gold in all experimental systems. Salinity did not affect gold immobilization. Scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy demonstrated that reduced gold (III) chloride was immobilized as c. 3–10 nm gold colloids and c. 100 nm colloidal aggregates at the fluid–biofilm interface. The precipitation of gold at this organic interface protected cells within the biofilm from the ‘toxic effect’ of ionic gold. Analysis of these experimental systems using X-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy confirmed that elemental gold with varying colloidal sizes formed within minutes. The immobilization of gold by halophilic sulphate-reducing bacteria highlights a possible role for the biosphere in ‘intercepting’ mobile gold complexes within natural, hydraulic flow paths. Based on the limited toxicity demonstrated in this experimental model, significant concentrations of elemental gold could accumulate over geological time in natural systems where soluble gold concentrations are more dilute and presumably ‘non-toxic’ to the biosphere.

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Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Ore Deposits in an Evolving Earth

G. R. T. Jenkin
G. R. T. Jenkin
University of Leicester, UK
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P. A. J. Lusty
P. A. J. Lusty
British Geological Survey, UK
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I. Mcdonald
I. Mcdonald
Cardiff University, UK
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M. P. Smith
M. P. Smith
University of Brighton, UK
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A. J. Boyce
A. J. Boyce
Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, UK
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J. J. Wilkinson
J. J. Wilkinson
Natural History Museum and Imperial College London, UK
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Geological Society of London
Volume
393
ISBN electronic:
9781862396692
Publication date:
January 01, 2015

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