Arsenic-feeding bacteria expands traditional notions of life
December 2nd, 2010
01:27 PM ET

Arsenic-feeding bacteria expands traditional notions of life

Scientists have discovered a form of bacteria that can thrive largely on arsenic - an element generally considered toxic - dramatically expanding both traditional notions of how life is sustained and the range of where it might be found in the universe, NASA funded-researchers announced Thursday.

"Life as we know it requires particular chemical elements and excludes others," Arizona State University researcher Ariel Anbar said in a news release. "But are those the only options? How different could life be?"

The bacterium - strain GFAJ-1 of the Halomonadaceae family of Gammaproteobacteria - was scooped from sediment in California's Mono Lake, an area rife with naturally high levels of arsenic, it said.

Scientists were able to grow the microbes from the lake using only small portions of phosphorous - considered an essential nutrient in the biomolecules of a naturally occurring bacterium.


Filed under: Science
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Protoman

    Wouldn't all of God's infinite knowledge include math and science? Many atheists believe in aliens, but not a being that may have possessed the knowledge to create a universe? Humans (relatively dumb compared to aliens) are on the verge of creating mini black holes in the new facility in Europe. If you point to any one religion for truth then I would agree that there isn't much there if you take the texts literally. The Bible has more metaphors for guidance than it does literal truth. The snake in the garden of eden was not a literal talking reptile, but a metaphor to represent the deceivers in society. The forbidden fruit was the knowledge from the tree and not an actual fruit. Scientists actually confirm creationism by admitting the universe just came out of nothing. We came from somewhere and even the atoms that preceded the big bang had to come from somewhere.

    December 3, 2010 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
  2. DestroyAllHumans

    I concur earthling

    December 3, 2010 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jim Brieske

    This is a waste of money. This makes no difference in whether we survive or not. We can not live in cyanide based environment anyways fukheads.
    But worse is that it is a waste of time, waste of time, waste of time, waste of time, waste of time etc etc etc etc

    December 3, 2010 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. E. Henry

    Life beyond earth? New book by USA Today writer answers question.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Biomaniac

    People seem to be rejecting the implications of this discovery rather easily, or simply failing to notice it.

    December 3, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
1 2