Arsenic Bacteria Heralds New Era In Search For Life

December 5th, 2010 - 8:44 pm ICT by GD  

By Gina Gomez
Arsenic BacteriaDec 5, (THAINDIAN NEWS) The announcement made by the U.S. space agency NASA about the discovery of a new kind of bacteria that can not only grow in the presence of arsenic but uses it as a nutrient, has opened new floodgates for the exploration of life forms on Earth, researchers believe. Despite the fact that the new variety of microbe was found on Earth, scientists have reiterated that the existence of the bacteria gives substantial prove about the presence of life beyond what is considered to be a precursor for the existence of life.

The six major elements that are known to be essential for the existence of life are carbon, oxygen, phosphorus, nitrogen, hydrogen and sulphur. However, the new variety of microbe that has been discovered by the scientists in Mono Lake, in the U.S. state of California challenges the earlier presumption of scientists as it able to thrive in by substituting arsenic for phosphorus in its DNA. The discovery of the radical new microbe is being considered to be all the more path-breaking as researchers have emphasized the discovery might just be an important cornerstone in finding life beyond Earth as it widens the scope of discovering ‘extraterrestrial life’ in other planets beyond the realms of Earth.

While revealing details of the study which was published in the online version of the journal Science, co-author Paul C. W. Davies who is associated with Arizona State University added that the unique bacteria has ‘dual capability’ which means it can grow either with phosphorus or with arsenic. Although the characteristic is very peculiar, it makes it short of being described as an ‘alien life,’ the scientist noted.

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