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Scientists Find Gold-Studded Fungus in Western Australia

Researchers believe the fungus is an indicator of gold deposits and hope the discovery will help miners.

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FILE - A miner looks across the largest open pit gold mine in Australia called the Fimiston Open Pit, also known as the Super Pit, in the gold-mining town of Kalgoorlie, located around 500 kilometres east of Perth, July 27, 2001. VOA

A fluffy pink fungus that decorates itself with gold nanoparticles has been found in Western Australia. Researchers believe the fungus is an indicator of gold deposits and hope the discovery will help miners narrow down where to dig.

Scientists in Australia have found a fungus that can bond with gold particles. It releases a chemical called superoxide that can dissolve gold in the soil. It is then able to mix this dissolved metal with another chemical to turn it back into solid gold, in the form of tiny nanoparticles.

So why does this gold-loving fungus have an attraction to this precious metal? The research team believes by interacting with gold in this way it can grow faster and bigger relative to other fungi that do not.

The research has been carried out by Australia’s national science agency.

Scientists, Gold-Studded, Fungus
A fluffy pink fungus that decorates itself with gold nanoparticles has been found. VOA

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the CSIRO, believes the discovery could be a new way to mine gold. The fungi could be markers that indicate the presence of gold, and narrow down the area where exploratory drilling would be most beneficial.

The study’s author is Dr. Tsing Bohu, a CSIRO geo-microbiologist.

“I think this is probably very novel because gold is very inert generally speaking but we found actually this fungus can interact with gold by dissolving gold. So I think it is very novel and it is also very important for mining and other industrial [processes] like leaching, so [it] has some potential applications,” he said.

The fungus was found in soil at Boddington, 130 kilometers south-east of Perth in Western Australia.

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The research has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Australia is the world’s second-largest producer of gold, but its output is expected to fall unless more deposits are discovered.

In recent weeks, two Australians have stumbled upon large gold nuggets worth tens of thousands of dollars in Western Australia and the state of Victoria. (VOA)

Next Story

Scientists to Detect and Count Stranded Whales from Space

It is hoped that in the future the technique will lead to real-time information as stranding events happen

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Scientists, Whales, Space
Now we have a higher resolution 'window' on our planet, satellite imagery may be a fast and cost-effective alternative to aerial surveys allowing us to assess the extent of mass whale stranding events, especially in remote and inaccessible areas. Pixabay

Analysing satellite images may help scientists detect and count stranded whales from space, new research has found.

In a study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers tested a new detection method using Very High Resolution (VHR) satellite images from space tech compnay Maxar Technologies.

“This is an exciting development in monitoring whales from space,” said lead author Peter Fretwell at British Antarctic Survey.

“Now we have a higher resolution ‘window’ on our planet, satellite imagery may be a fast and cost-effective alternative to aerial surveys allowing us to assess the extent of mass whale stranding events, especially in remote and inaccessible areas.”

Scientists, Whales, Space
In a study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers tested a new detection method using Very High Resolution (VHR) satellite images from space tech compnay Maxar Technologies. Pixabay

It is hoped that in the future the technique will lead to real-time information as stranding events happen.

The study by scientists from British Antarctic Survey and four Chilean research institutes, could revolutionise how stranded whales, that are dead in the water or beached, are detected in remote places.

In 2015, over 340 whales, most of them sea whales, were involved in a mass-stranding in a remote region of Chilean Patagonia.

The stranding was not discovered for several weeks owing to the remoteness of the region. Aerial and boat surveys assessed the extent of the mortality several months after discovery.

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The researchers studied satellite images covering thousands of kilometres of coastline, which provided an early insight into the extent of the mortality.

They could identify the shape, size and colour of the whales, especially after several weeks when the animals turned pink and orange as they decomposed.

A greater number of whales were counted in the images captured soon after the stranding event than from the local surveys.

Scientists, Whales, Space
“This is an exciting development in monitoring whales from space,” said lead author Peter Fretwell at British Antarctic Survey. Pixabay

“The causes of marine mammal strandings are poorly understood and therefore information gathered helps understand how these events may be influenced by overall health, diet, environmental pollution, regional oceanography, social structures and climate change,” said study co-author and whale biologist Jennifer Jackson at British Antarctic Survey.

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“As this new technology develops, we hope it will become a useful tool for obtaining real-time information. This will allow local authorities to intervene earlier and possibly help with conservation efforts,” Jackson said. (IANS)