The easy way to discover gold
Australian scientists have discovered gold-coated fungi near Boddington in Western Australia.
The thread-like fungi attach gold to their strands by dissolving and precipitating particles from their surroundings, in a process that could offer clues for finding new gold deposits.
There may be a biological advantage in doing so too, as the gold-coated fungi were found to grow larger and spread faster than those that don't interact with gold and play a central role in a biodiverse soil community.
The discovery was made by Australia's national science agency, the CSIRO.
"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," CSIRO lead author Tsing Bohu said.
"Fungi are well-known for playing an essential role in the degradation and recycling of organic material, such as leaves and bark, as well as for the cycling of other metals, including aluminium, iron, manganese and calcium.
"But gold is so chemically inactive that this interaction is both unusual and surprising – it had to be seen to be believed."
Dr Bohu is undertaking further analysis and modelling to understand why the fungi is interacting with gold, and whether or not, it's an indication of a larger deposit below the surface.
While Fusarium oxsporum is commonly found in soils around the world and produce a pink mycelium or "flower" – it's not something prospectors should go foraging for, as the particles of gold can only be seen under a microscope.