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Arsenic-based life debate continues

More than a dozen researchers voice their concerns about a 2010 paper that claims bacteria can use arsenic in place of phosphorus in its DNA and other biomolecules

Jessica P. Johnson
Scientists are questioning the validity of a linkurl:high-profile paper;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/57851/ that claimed to have discovered a strain of bacteria from Mono Lake, California, that can use arsenic in place of phosphorus in its DNA and other biomolecules, such as proteins.
Mono Lake, California
Image: Image © 2010 Henry Bortman
The paper, which appeared online in ScienceExpress last December, immediately sparked a hot debate among the scientific community. Now, fifteen researchers have articulated their concerns in the form of eight technical comments published in ScienceExpress last week (May 27), and, for the first time since its publication, the authors of the controversial study have written a formal response to their critics. In general, the criticisms highlight poor experimental techniques and point to more likely explanations for the results than a straightforward replacement of phosphorous with arsenic in biomolecules. "It's like finding a unicorn in your back garden," said linkurl:Rosemary Redfield,;http://www.zoology.ubc.ca/%7Eredfield/whoRRedfield.html...
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