Arsenic-munching germ redefines 'life as we know it'


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ByaseL

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ByaseL

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WASHINGTON (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
 

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