Microbial arsenic fail

Recently, NASA heralded the discovery of a bacteria in a toxic lake in California that uses arsenic instead of phosphorus in its DNA as a major breakthrough in finding clues for life on other planets. But, the science does not seem to stack up and in what might be termed the modern, open, social media successor of anonymous peer review, the evidence has been picked apart by countless experts and laid bare for others to see. The research published in Science follows up earlier research that revealed a bacteria that could metabolize arsenic, but takes the implications one step further and apparently shows that a bacteria can switch out P for As. The team is standing by its results in the face of ongoing criticism. There is, however, a strong possibility that there was sample contamination and given that the research did not have access to NMR spectroscopy to prove the presence of arsenic biomolecules, the self-appointed jury is unlikely to be persuaded in their favor.