Traces of the precious metal have been found in the foliage of eucalyptus trees by scientists in Australia, who believe the discovery could help locate gold deposits in difficult areas.
The particles of gold in the leaves, twigs and bark of some eucalyptus trees were found using the Australian synchrotron, a vast machine that probes matter in exceptional detail using X-rays.
Researchers writing in the journal Nature Communications said gold particles were found in the soils around eucalyptus trees, and that the plants were taking in the element.
Geochemist Dr Mel Lintern, from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, said: “We’ve found a lot of the easy deposits in Australia and elsewhere in the world as well.
“Now we are trying to tackle finding these more difficult ones that are buried beneath tens of metres of river sediments and sand dunes. And the trees are providing us with a method to be able to do this.”
Dr Lintern cautioned that the amounts of gold found were tiny, saying: “We’ve done a calculation and found that we need 500 trees growing over a gold deposit to have enough gold in the trees themselves to make a gold ring.”
But the presence of the particles could mean larger amounts are buried more than 30m below the trees
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