Educated Earth // Videos - Life on Earth - NASA Discovers New Type Of Life
User:
Pass:
Remember Me
Forgot Pass Register

Our educational work is entirely supported by people like you. Your donations directly add new exhibits and new features to the website, and even helps us open the Prehistoria Natural History Center!




eXTReMe Tracker

Videos / Life On Earth / NASA Discovers New Type Of Life







NASA Discovers New Type Of Life

NASA Discovers New Type Of Life
NASA funded 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.


  • Currently 2.95/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.0 / 5 (373 votes)
Posted by nova on December 3, 2010
Hits: 3093

More Videos

Crow Filmed Using Multiple Tools
Crow Filmed Using Multiple Tools
Type: Life On Earth
Mars Science Laboratory (Full Simulation)
Mars Science Laboratory (Full Simulation)
Type: Astronomy
Lion Keeper Gets Mobbed By Cubs
Lion Keeper Gets Mobbed By Cubs
Type: Life On Earth
Uniting Humanity Through Fiction
Uniting Humanity Through Fiction
Type: Humanity
Allen Telescope Array
Allen Telescope Array
Type: Astronomy
DIVINER - Lunar Radiometer Experiment
DIVINER - Lunar Radiometer Experiment
Type: Astronomy
Sand Flea: The Jumping Robot
Sand Flea: The Jumping Robot
Type: Tech & Gadgets
Cassini - Huygens : The Incredible Journey
Cassini - Huygens : The Incredible Journey
Type: Astronomy
Is Life Just On Earth, Or Everywhere?
Is Life Just On Earth, Or Everywhere?
Type: Astronomy
Tour of ATV-3 From The ISS
Tour of ATV-3 From The ISS
Type: Astronomy
Tunguska Explosion
Tunguska Explosion
Type: Earth Sciences
The Science of Hearing
The Science of Hearing
Type: Biology & Medicine
How Do Crystals Form?
How Do Crystals Form?
Type: Earth Sciences
World's Largest Oil Skimmer
World's Largest Oil Skimmer
Type: Tech & Gadgets
Giving The Space Station A Boost
Giving The Space Station A Boost
Type: Astronomy

Comments

Posted by nova on December 3, 2010 at 7:46 am
(Reuters) - A strange, salty lake in California has yielded an equally strange bacterium that thrives on arsenic and redefines life as we know it, researchers reported on Thursday.

The bacteria do not merely eat arsenic -- they incorporate the toxic element directly into their DNA, the researchers said.

The finding shows just how little scientists know about the variety of life forms on Earth, and may greatly expand where they should be looking for life on other planets and moons, the NASA-funded team said.

"We have cracked open the door to what is possible for life elsewhere in the universe," Felisa Wolfe-Simon of the NASA Astrobiology Institute and U.S. Geological Survey, who led the study, told a news conference.

The study, published in the journal Science, demonstrates that one of the most notorious poisons on Earth can also be the very stuff of life for some creatures.

Wolfe-Simon and colleagues found the strain of Halomonadaceae in California's Mono Lake, formed in a volcanic region and very dense in minerals, including arsenic.

The lake is teeming with life, but not fish. It also contains the bacteria.

"Life is mostly composed of the elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur and phosphorus," the researchers write in Science.

These six elements make up the nucleic acids -- the A, C, T and G of DNA -- as well as proteins and lipids. But there is no reason in theory why other elements should not be used. It is just that science never found anything alive that used them.

The researchers grew microbes from the lake in water loaded with arsenic, and only containing a little bit of phosphorus.

SCIENTISTS AMAZED

The GFAJ-1 strain of the Halomonadaceae grew when arsenic was in the water and when phosphorus was in the water, but not when both were taken away. And it grew even with "double whammy" of arsenic.

"It grew and it thrived and that was amazing. Nothing should have grown," Wolfe-Simon told a news conference.

"We know that some microbes can 'breathe' arsenic, but what we've found is a microbe doing something new -- building parts of itself out of arsenic."

Paul Davies of NASA and Arizona State said the bacterium is not a new life form.

"It can grow with either phosphorous or arsenic. That makes it very peculiar, though it falls short of being some form of truly 'alien' life belonging to a different tree of life with a separate origin," he said.

But it does suggest that astrobiologists looking for life on other planets do not need to look only for planets with the same balance of elements as Earth has.

"Our findings are a reminder that life-as-we-know-it could be much more flexible than we generally assume or can imagine," said Wolfe-Simon.

"If something here on Earth can do something so unexpected, what else can life do that we haven't seen yet? Now is the time to find out."

James Elser, an expert on phosphorus at Arizona State University, said such bacteria may be useful for generating new biofuels that do not requite phosphate fertilizers, treating wastewater or cleaning up toxic waste sites.

(Reporting by Maggie Fox, editing by Philip Barbara and Jackie Frank)
Posted by twist on December 4, 2010 at 12:07 pm
Life will ALWAYS find a way. So amazing.
thanks nova
User: Pass: Remember Me

To comment on this item, please login or register.


Warning: Unknown: Your script possibly relies on a session side-effect which existed until PHP 4.2.3. Please be advised that the session extension does not consider global variables as a source of data, unless register_globals is enabled. You can disable this functionality and this warning by setting session.bug_compat_42 or session.bug_compat_warn to off, respectively in Unknown on line 0