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Amazing applications of bacteria

  1. Oct 2, 2012 #1
    I'm always amazed by studies involving super bacteria. I'd love to hear about all the research you have come across involving bacteria.

    Here is a recent one I just found:

    Superman-strength bacteria produce gold from gold chloride
    http://news.msu.edu/story/superman-strength-bacteria-produces-gold/

    Oldie but goodie:

    Uranium eating bacteria
    http://news.discovery.com/tech/how-bacteria-clean-up-nuclear-waste-110909.html [Broken]
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 3, 2012 #2
  4. Oct 9, 2012 #3
    Then there's the research into using calcite precipitating bacteria (Sporosarcina pasteurii -formerly Bacillus pasteurii-,and others) to stabilize sand and to create building blocks, a process similar those which created many of our sandstone mountain chains.

    Among the projects I am familiar with is the one to create building blocks or bricks from sand, urea, and some other nutrients, research done by Ginger Krieg Dosier in Abu Dhabi.

    See: http://vergelabs.com/ and click on the photo of the sandy looking brick.

    One neat set of experiments with biocemented bricks is to send them up in balloons to very high altitudes to test how they'd react if they were manufactured on the Martian surface:
    http://2011.igem.org/Team:Brown-Stanford/REGObricks/Balloon

    A slightly more practical line of research for now is to try to solidify sandy subsoils so that the ground underneath buildings ( nuclear reactors, especially...) doesn't liquify during an earthquake.

    While these processes cut down on the amount of CO2 produced to make bricks or similar building materials, there is also an increase in off-gassing of ammonia...a much worse greenhouse gas. :-( However, I think there's a solution to that problem. Use a urea-dolomite fertilizer for the Nitrogen source: the dolomite contains magnesium, which helps prevent the ammonia production. ( Note: I don't have the equipment or full set of skills to test this hypothesis...)

    At any rate, it is utterly awe-inspiring to think whole mountain chains have been built grain by grain by tiny MICPs critters. (MICP=Microbially Induced Calcite Precipitation)
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012
  5. Oct 9, 2012 #4
    Add: some sub-species of Sporosarcina pasteurii are more effective at precipitating calcite crystals than other subspecies. Not enough research has gone into isolating the different subspecies of this common soil bacteria to find the most effective ones.

    One plan is to someday import these to Mars to help build structures up there. This can be done using large robot 3D printing machines, at least at first. If the whole idea works, that is...
     
  6. Oct 10, 2012 #5
    This thread is fantastic. Using bacteria do things that we need is very cool in my opinion. Apart from all the bacteria in your body I mean. If I come across something I'll certainly add it in here.
     
  7. Oct 11, 2012 #6
    I'm of the mind that finding bacteria doing something we didn't even know we needed is a real high point in a scientist's career.
    And by 'we' I mean all creatures.
    Since most of the microbes around are unknown species or sub-species, there's a lot of opportunity for discoveries in this field.

    I have a contact who spends her summers crawling around in obscure caves to search for some of these unknown species. Her research is oriented towards finding new medicinal compounds created by these creatures.
    Crawling into a damp, dark, snake and spider-filled cave in, say, Southeast Asia, takes a lot of strength, both physical and mental...
     
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