Gold Transforms Bacterium into Artificial Photosynthesis System

Gold Transforms Bacterium into Artificial Photosynthesis System

A bacterium named Moorella thermoacetica won’t work for free.

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley have figured out it has an appetite for gold. In exchange for this special treat, the bacterium has revealed a more efficient path to producing solar fuels through artificial photosynthesis.

M. thermoacetica first made its debut as the first non-photosensitive bacterium to carry out artificial photosynthesis in a study led by Peidong Yang, a professor in UC Berkeley’s College of Chemistry.

By attaching light-absorbing nanoparticles made of cadmium sulfide (CdS) to the bacterial membrane exterior, the researchers turned M. thermoacetica into a tiny photosynthesis machine, converting sunlight and carbon dioxide into useful chemicals.

Now Yang and his team of researchers have found a better way to entice this CO2-hungry bacterium into being even more productive. By placing light-absorbing gold nanoclusters inside the bacterium, they have created a biohybrid system that produces a higher yield of chemical products than previously demonstrated.

The research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was published on Oct. 1 in Nature Nanotechnology.

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