Mono Lake California & Arsenic?

Bacteria that thrive on arsenic have been scooped from the depths of the Mono Lake in California, a discovery that redefines the building blocks of life and offers new hope in the search for extraterrestrial beings.

The new discovery is unlike every other life-form on the planet, from the simplest plant to the most complex mammal.

Scraped from the bottom of Mono Lake in California and then grown inside a laboratory, the bacteria uses the poisonous substance arsenic as a replacement for phosphorus, the element previously considered an essential backbone for all life.

Is the new found bacterial alien life? Does this discovery confirm the existence of extraterrestrial life?

asked by Marissa in Science | 3055 views | 12-03-2010 at 12:13 AM

I think it demonstrates life can be way more complex than what we think today.
If alternate biologies can happen on Earth, there's no reason to think they can't happen elsewhere, not only like the newly discovered bacteria, but all sorts of takes on what life might look like.

The recent discovery by Felisa Wolfe-Simon of an organism that can utilize arsenic in place of phosphorus has demonstrated that life is still capable of surprising us in fundamental ways.

In their experiment, researchers cultured the bacterium to use otherwise-toxic arsenic instead of phosphorous in its DNA. Phosphorous is one of the six elements considered essential to life on Earth.

Expect that new editions of biology textbooks will reflect this change, and that the search for life here on Earth--and on other planets--will expand to look for life with other alternative biochemistries.

answered by Spencer | 12-03-2010 at 12:14 AM

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