Now, however, the list of basic elements of life must obviously be rewritten: according to the new findings, it is now called "phosphorus or arsenic". Normally, arsenic is highly toxic to living things because it interferes with their metabolic processes. However, it has some chemical similarities to phosphorus, the scientists say. These characteristics apparently use the bacterium from the family of Halomonadaceae, in order to be independent of phosphorus, as the studies showed.
The researchers cultured the bacteria under laboratory conditions on a nutrient medium, replacing step by step phosphorus with arsenic. At the end of the experiment, the bacteria proved they did not need any phosphorus to survive. The following analyzes of the researchers finally confirmed the replacement of the element by arsenic in the vital components of the microorganisms: In proteins, lipids and even in DNA, the bizarre bacteria had exchanged phosphorus for arsenic.
The astrobiologist and co-author of the study Ariel Anbar, from Arizona State University in Tempe, underlines the importance of the results: "A basic principle in the exploration of possible life outside the earth was to approach the availability of the supposed six elements of life hold. The new findings show that we need to continue thinking in this regard: life can be quite different on our planet than we previously knew, "says Anbar. displayFelisa Wolfe-Simon (Astrobiology Institute of NASA, California) et al .: Science, 10.1126 / science.1197258 dapd / science.de? Martin Vieweg