Friday, January 21, 2011

I've got the poison, I've got the remedy.

"The definition of life has just expanded," said one scientist. "If something here on Earth can do something so unexpected, what else can life do that we haven't seen yet?" said another scientist.
Big words indeed! In December 2010, a new way of life was discovered. And no, it was not raw food diet, polyamoury, world peace or the return of Jesus.
A gammabacteria from a lake in USA could not only live in the presence of arsenic. It also incorporated it into it’s biological machinery such as DNA. One life-form's poison, another life-form's buildingblock.
In general, life uses a set of different building blocks amongst other; carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulphur.These are used by all known forms of life on Earth.
Phosphorus is part of the chemical backbone of DNA and RNA, the structures that carry genetic instructions for life, and is considered an essential element for all living cells. Cells also use phosphorus to store and move energy in the cell in the form of adenosine triphosphate. Phospholipids form all cell membranes. Arsenic is chemically similar to phosphorus and poisonous for most life on Earth. Arsenic disrupts metabolic pathways because chemically it behaves similarly to phosphate. But in some, at the moment rare and exotic cases, it can be used instead of phosphor.

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