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March 14 2013

Russian scientist defends Lake Vostok life claims

The Russian scientist who is leading an effort to analyse samples from a lake buried under almost 4 kilometres of Antarctic ice has hit back against criticism that an unknown species of bacterium discovered by the team was in fact contamination.

At an international scientific meeting in Moscow on 6 March, Sergey Bulat of the Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute in Gatchina said that water from Lake Vostok contained a bacterium whose DNA was less than 86% similar to DNA from known bacterial species. But other researchers argue that announcement was premature because the bacterium might just have been a contaminant from the drilling fluid.

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