Minerals in lab (IMAGE) Penn State Caption The Penn State lab turned to nature to find an alternative to the conventional solvent-based separation process for rare earths, because biology has already been harvesting and harnessing the power of rare earths for millennia, especially in a class of bacteria called “methylotrophs” that often are found on plant leaves and in soil and water and play an important role in how carbon moves through the environment. Credit Patrick Mansell/Penn State Usage Restrictions Credit must be given to the creator. Only noncommercial uses of the work are permitted. No derivatives or adaptations of the work are permitted. License CC BY-NC-ND Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.