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Scientists say NASA’s 2010 ‘new form of life’ claim was untrue

•, By Agence France-Presse

Two scientific papers appear to have disproved a controversial claim made by NASA-funded scientists in 2010 that a new form of bacterial life had been discovered that could thrive on arsenic.

“Contrary to an original report, the new research clearly shows that the bacterium, GFAJ-1, cannot substitute arsenic for phosphorus to survive,” said a statement by the US journal Science, a prestigious, peer-reviewed magazine.

Science published the much-hyped initial study in December 2010, with lead researcher Felisa Wolfe-Simon, then a fellow in NASA’s astrobiology program, announcing that a new form of life had been scooped from a California lake.
The bacterium in arsenic-rich Mono Lake was said to redefine the building blocks of life, surviving and growing by swapping phosphorus for arsenic in its DNA and cell membranes.

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