Arsenic-loving microbe expands definition of life, says Jesuit



VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The discovery of the first known microorganism on Earth to thrive on the toxic chemical arsenic will help expand scientists’ understanding of the definition of life, said the head of the Vatican Observatory. “It’s clear that if we are searching for life forms in the universe, we have to at least know what to look for: that is, to define what a living being is,” said Jesuit Father Jose Funes. The recent discovery of a life form based on a completely different chemistry “will surely contribute to expanding our conceptual horizons on the subject” of what could be life and living matter, he said in an article in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, Dec. 4. A team of astrobiology researchers — funded by NASA — recently discovered a microbe strain, called GFAJ-1, in California’s Mono Lake, which has unusually high levels of salinity, alkalinity and arsenic. “Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur are the six basic building blocks of all known forms of life on Earth,” a NASA press release said Dec. 2. However, GFAJ-1 is able to thrive and reproduce using arsenic since it substitutes the toxic chemical for phosphorus in its cell components, the press release said. Father Funes wrote, “In short, it’s a microbe that breathes arsenic.”

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10 Responses

  1. I’ve been waiting for this…

  2. You’ve been waiting for the vatican to have their say right? I’m trying to decipher what it is exactly you have been wating for. :)

  3. Yup, I knew they would make a statement sooner or later on this new NASA thing..

  4. Yes, VERY interesting!

  5. Hi reformed traveler.

    Sue…:)

  6. Hi there Dawn..just keeping up with the craziness.. :)

  7. thought this link mwas about aliens think about people most alien are not much more intellegebt than us they have difficulty reading our minds with their 3rd brain lobe they are just like us some are good some are bad their next to the sun so radar has difficulty without mild scalar waves which could show our hand just dig a deep bunker with plenty of old microwaves be extremly care full if you take one apart they will kill

  8. also use an arc welding mask of the darkest time midday project it on to paper so you dont burn your eyes out

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