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October 5 2012
Nearly two years ago, a team of biologists claimed to have discovered new bacteria that not only could survive in an environment rich in arsenic, it could fold the toxic element into the very heart of its biochemistry – substituting to small extent arsenic for phosphorus – and survive.
Some astrobiologists were tantalized, suggesting that the results held the potential to broaden the range of habitats for life in the cosmos. But the research also generated intense push-back from other biologists, who said the results flouted well-established recipes for biologically critical molecules. And, they said, they found serious flaws in the experiments that led the team to its conclusions.
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