Monday, December 6, 2010

A new definition of life!

Mono Lake Research area

Felisa Wolfe-Simon processing mud from Mono Lake to inoculate media to grow microbes on arsenic.
Image Credit: Henry Bortman
Image Credit: Jodi Switzer Blum

"NASA-funded astrobiology research has changed the fundamental knowledge about what comprises all known life on Earth..." 

"Researchers conducting tests in the harsh environment of Mono Lake in California have discovered the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic. The microorganism substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in its cell components..."

source:  NASA-Funded Research Discovers Life Built With Toxic Chemical
added on 12/07/10
NASA Found Aliens! Or Not. The Worst Coverage of Arsenic-Loving 
"..Last week’s coverage of the bacteria that live in Mono Lake, CA was over hyped because of a cryptic message in a NASA press release (namely, that the discovery would “impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life”).
And even after all the build up, the early embargo break, and a long press conference, many news outlets STILL got the story wrong..."

added on 12/07/10
More about arsenic based bacteriae
Life With Arsenic: Who'd Have Thought? by Derek Lowe
"So: arsenic for phosphorus? That's the big news from NASA today. I listened to much of the press conference, and I've read the paper in Science. Is this real - and if it is, what does it tell us?..."