Enzymes produced by Metallosphaera sedula catalyze the reduction of metal ions from metal sulfates, sulfites, and sulfides to produce the elemental form of the metals.

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Metallosphaera sedula is a strain of single-celled microorganisms that thrive even under conditions of extreme heat and acidity. As part of their metabolism, these "extremophiles" produce enzymes that alter the state of metal-sulfur compounds, such as iron sulfide, present in their environment. The result is the elemental form of the metal – the same form that is useful for human applications.

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References

"Metallosphaera sedula strain DSM 5348 is an aerobic thermoacidophile...that was first isolated from a thermal pond...It can grow at temperatures ranging from 50 to 79°C with optimal growth at 74°C and pH 2. Metallosphaera sedula is capable of oxidizing sulfidic ores, such as pyrite, making it an attractive organism for use in bioleaching of metals." (Galperin 2007:1871).

"M. sedula genome contains genes related to autotrophic carbon fixation, metal tolerance, and adhesion...and a putative tetrathionate hydrolase, implicated in sulfur oxidation...facilitating release of valuable metals bound in metal sulfides." (Auernik et al. 2008:682).

"The fox gene cluster, two putative versions of Rus, and TetH appear to be factors distinguishing thermoacidophilic bioleachers from nonbioleachers." (Auernik et al. 2008:690).

"Biomining exploits acidophilic microorganisms to recover valuable metals (i.e., Cu and Au) from ores...in biohydrometallurgical processes" (Auernik et al. 2008:682).

Journal article
The Genome Sequence of the Metal-Mobilizing, Extremely Thermoacidophilic Archaeon Metallosphaera sedula Provides Insights into Bioleaching-Associated MetabolismApplied and Environmental MicrobiologyDecember 15, 2007
K. S. Auernik, Y. Maezato, P. H. Blum, R. M. Kelly

Journal article
Genomics against flatulenceEnviron MicrobiolJuly 12, 2007
Michael Y. Galperin

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