MicrobeWorld App

appsquarebannerad200x200

Join MicrobeWorld

Subscribe via Email

subscribe

Microbes After Hours

cheese-thumb-small

Click for more "Microbes After Hours" videos

Featured Image

Featured Video

Crowdsourced Microbes Heading to Station

Supporters

ASM House 200X200

Arsenic-loving bacterium needs phosphorus after all

Image
After 18 months of controversy, the official verdict is in: an arsenic-tolerant bacterium found in California’s Mono Lake cannot live without phosphorus.

In 2010, a group led by Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a microbiologist now at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, reported online in Science1 that the Halomonadaceae bacterium GFAJ-1 could include atoms of arsenic instead of phosphorus in crucial biochemicals such as DNA.

The bacteria were discovered thriving in the arsenic-rich sediment of the shallow saline Mono Lake, famed for its appearance on a picture-postcard insert to Pink Floyd’s 1975 album Wish You Were Here.

All known forms of life depend on at least six elements: hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulphur. Arsenic has some chemical similarities with phosphorus, but is usually toxic to life, so the suggestion that it could sustain life triggered a storm of questions, as well as criticism about how the find was revealed at an enthusiastic NASA press conference.
 
 

Comments (0)

Collections (0)

 

American Society for Microbiology
2012 1752 N Street, N.W. • Washington, DC 20036-2904 • (202) 737-3600
American Society For Microbiology © 2014   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms of Use