A team of researchers has found a new bacteria that is able to use manganese as food. The existence of such bacteria was anticipated more than a century ago, but no one has been able to track them down unit now.
Microbes found in nature have depicted similar traits in the past as previous research has shown that they can metabolize unusual materials, obtaining energy that is useful for them. The bacteria found by the team can also use manganese to convert carbon dioxide into biomass with the use of a process known as chemosynthesis.
A lucky accident
One of the researchers who contributed to the study made the discovery by accident after performing a series of unrelated experiments and used a dust-like type of manganese. After the experiments took place, he left a soiled jar to soak in tap water for a few months and didn’t return for a few months due to other obligations.
When he came back, he observed that the jar was coated in a dark layer, a discovery that prompted further research. A systematic set of tests revealed that the black coating was oxidized manganese created by a bacteria identified in the tap water.
It is worth noting that manganese can be found in abundance on the surface of the planet. Manganese oxide has the form of a dark substance that tends to form clumps and can be found in subsurface deposits and water distribution systems.
The new information is quite important as it allows researchers to better understand groundwater geochemistry. It is already known that bacteria can decompose pollutants found in groundwater through a process called bioremediation, which releases manganese oxide as a secondary product. Other researchers have already praised the new discovery.
More information about the topic can be found in a study that was published in a scientific journal.