A new study by the University of California’s Bakar Fellows Program has found further knowledge about microscopic bacteria that can be used in iron ore mining.

Bakar Fellows Program professor of plant and microbial biology Arash Komeili has said that the discovery may lead to new ways to extract metals for commercial value and to manipulate the genes to tease apart ferrosome transport and storage.

Komeili said: “Modifying the types of genes for ferrosome metal transport should allow us to concentrate new metals of interest like gold, copper or manganese.

“The mined metals in the engineered ferrosomes would be present in the same cells as the magnetic particles of manetosomes.

“Because the magnetosomes are magnetic, the accumulated metal could then be extracted by magnets.”

Despite the Covid-19-related disruption, the Bakar Fellows Program funding will support further research on this, to gain better understanding of the process and how it can be applied to mineral extraction.