• A team of Rutgers University scientists and collaborators discovered the bacteria in soil at an old uranium ore mill in Rifle, Colorado, almost 200 miles west of Denver. The site is one of nine such mills in Colorado used during the heyday of nuclear weapons production.
  • The team’s discovery is the first known instance where scientists have found a bacterium from a common class known as betaproteobacteria that breathes uranium. This bacterium can breathe either oxygen or uranium to drive the chemical reactions that provide life-giving energy.
  • Breathing uranium is rather rare in the microbial world. Most examples of bacteria which can respire uranium cannot breathe oxygen but often breathe compounds based on metals – typically forms of solid iron.

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