Two new scientific papers 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 Sunday 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.[...]
While Wolfe-Simon and colleagues acknowledged that there were very low levels of phosphate within their study samples, they concluded that this was a level of contamination that was insufficient to permit GFAJ to grow.
Two separate Science articles "now reveal that, in fact, her medium did contain enough phosphate contamination to support GFAJ-1's growth," said a statement by the magazine issued late Sunday.