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I've read that the human body contains trace amounts of gold:

http://www.tellmehowmuch.net/how-much-gold-is-found-in-the-human-body.html http://web2.airmail.net/uthman/elements_of_body.html

Are there other species that are known to have significantly higher ratios of gold to body mass?

And while there seems to be no definitive answer about the benefit of gold being in the human body, are there any species for which gold has demonstrative bodily uses or benefits?

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Acidothiobacillus ferrooxidans can gain metabolic energy by utilizing gold thiosulphate complexes (Reith et al., 2007); Micrococcus luteus can oxidize methane to methanol using gold-containing enzyme (Levchenko et al., 2002).

However, for most organisms, gold is toxic (Wietkiewicz & Shaw, 1981); some bacteria actively detoxify gold: Cupriavidus (Ralstonia, Wautersia) metallidurans, Desulfotomaculum sp., Desulfovibrio sp., Hyphomonas adhaerens, Plectonema boryanum, Pseudomonas aeruginosa Salmonella enterica, Shewanella algae, Spirulina platensis (Reith et al., 2007).


Reith F, Lengke MF, Falconer D, Craw D, Southam G (2007) The geomicrobiology of gold. ISME J. 1: 567-584.

Levchenko LA, Sadkov AP, Lariontseva NV, Koldasheva EM, Shilova AK, Shilov AE. (2002) Gold helps bacteria to oxidize methane. J Inorg Biochem 88: 251-253.

Witkiewicz PL & Shaw CF III (1981) Oxidative cleavage of peptide and protein disulphide bonds by gold(III): a mechanism for gold toxicity. J Chem Soc Chem Commun 21: 1111–1114.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! Is there a known typical amount of gold as a percentage of body mass in any of these? $\endgroup$ – Josh Withee Jan 21 '18 at 0:08
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    $\begingroup$ Shewanella algae is one of the bacteria that precipitate gold intracellularly. 3.2 × 10^15 cells of S. algae is able to create up to 1 mol of crystalline gold nanoparticles (see "Konishi et al., 2006" in Reith et al., 2007). As for other bacteria mentioned above, look into the papers cited by Reith et al., 2007 . . . $\endgroup$ – user37894 Jan 21 '18 at 15:01

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