Cell biology Intelligent Design

And now, it turns out, some bacteria eat manganese

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Researchers discovered this by accident: when the bacteria left manganese oxide in a dirty lab jar:

Leadbetter knew that scientists had long suspected that bacteria could use manganese to fuel growth. Over a century ago, researchers discovered that bacteria could borrow electrons from chemical elements like nitrogen, sulfur, iron — and manganese. In some cases, bacteria could even use these electrons to fuel growth in much the same way that humans use electrons from carbohydrates in the diet for energy. But no one had identified bacteria that could turn electrons from manganese into energy…

Leadbetter suspects that similar bacteria may also be responsible for grapefruit-sized balls of manganese oxide on the ocean floor, first spotted in the 1870s, that have puzzled scientists. He wants to search there and other places for more examples of bacteria that use manganese for energy.

Carolyn Beans, “Scientists stumbled across the first known manganese-fueled bacteria” at ScienceNews

Paper. (open access)

One wonders, is there any natural element that no life form uses?

3 Replies to “And now, it turns out, some bacteria eat manganese

  1. 1
    Mac McTavish says:

    We have long known about the biological use of manganese. I don’t see anything new here.

  2. 2
    ET says:

    This is where zinc comes in. Zinc binds to a transport protein that binds to metals like manganese. Once that happens the bacteria starve because that protein can no no longer bind and transport manganese for the bacteria to utilize.

  3. 3
    Querius says:

    Yeah, but it gives them gas. 😉

    Oxides actually.


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