Controversy over a bacterium that grows in arsenic — an update

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Astrobiology Press Conference (201012020001HQ)

Dr. Felisa Wolfe-Simon at Astrobiology Press Conference

The upheaval in the scientific community revolving around the allegedly arsenic-exploiting bacterium has neared its end.

The turmoil started at the end of year 2010 when Dr. Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a NASA astrobiology fellow, reported that her team has isolated a strain of bacterium termed GFAJ-1 which not only can grow in arsenic-rich medium but also incorporates arsenic into its essential biomolecules, including DNA and proteins. (For more recap, check out my older post.) Arsenic is very similar to phosphorus. However, unlike phosphorus which is essential to living creatures, arsenic is poisonous. Continue reading –>



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2 responses to “Controversy over a bacterium that grows in arsenic — an update

  1. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    As someone already noted, ironically, the question is now not how GFAJ-1 manages to incorporate arsenic but how it is so good at excluding it.

    Ah, progress!