NASA discovers microorganism that uses arsenic instead of phosphorous to thrive and reproduce,Which is life built with toxic chemical.Arsenic-Born Organisms is a building block of life along with carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur, all integral to our DNA and RNA……
NASA-funded astrobiology research has changed the fundamental knowledge about what comprises all known life on Earth.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. The microorganism substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in its cell components.
This finding of an alternative biochemistry makeup will alter biology textbooks and expand the scope of the search for life beyond Earth. The research is published in this week’s edition of Science Express.Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur are the six basic building blocks of all known forms of life on Earth. Phosphorus is part of the chemical backbone of DNA and RNA, the structures that carry genetic instructions for life, and is considered an essential element for all living cells.
The newly discovered microbe, strain GFAJ-1, is a member of a common group of bacteria, the Gammaproteobacteria. In the laboratory, the researchers successfully grew microbes from the lake on a diet that was very lean on phosphorus, but included generous helpings of arsenic. When researchers removed the phosphorus and replaced it with arsenic the microbes continued to grow. Subsequent analyses indicated that the arsenic was being used to produce the building blocks of new GFAJ-1 cells.
The key issue the researchers investigated was when the microbe was grown on arsenic did the arsenic actually became incorporated into the organisms‘ vital biochemical machinery such as DNA proteins and the cell membranes. A variety of sophisticated laboratory techniques was used to determine where the arsenic was incorporated.NASA‘s Astrobiology Program in Washington contributed funding for the research through its Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology program and the NASA Astrobiology Institute. NASA’s Astrobiology Program supports research into the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life on Earth.