Thiovulum Aureus is an extremophile of the genus thiovulum which exist in deep ocean saline pools near chimneys (hydrothermal vents) in sea water temperatures of up to 300 deg C. The bacterium is sulphur-oxidizing, and is capable of concentrating metals such as copper and gold from dilute aqueous solutions. It is present near both so-called black- and white- smokers.
Thiovulum Aureus was genetically engineered by Tobin Resour ces Inc to economically extract gold from the hydrothermal vents in the Red Sea. A circular array of outlets and inlets, several miles in diameter, is used to recycle and increase gold concentrations in these bacteria. At the target concentration level, they are then harvested and shipped in VLCCs to a refinery in the UK. At the refinery, the gold is extracted and shipped to specialist refineries where it turned into fine gold bullion.
Alternative Derivation and Commercial Importance
Thiovulum is found near hydrothermal vents and is an extremophile, existing in the high salinity and temperatures typical of that environment. These bacteria have been shown to contain high levels of metallic elements.
One theory is involves the increase in pH in the micro-environment of the microbial mats that line these vent chimneys. These metals are less soluble at in this chemical soup and are then stored within the cell walls of the bacteria. It is thought that ocean floor manganese nodules were formed in this way.
Aureus is a completely fictitious thiovulum which forms a central plot theme in ‘Gate of Tears’ by James Marinero.
(c) 2011 James Marinero
November 12, 2011