Bacterium grows with arsenic

Bacterium grows with arsenic

Microbe uses toxic element instead of phosphorus

By Rachel Ehrenberg, 12:40 PM December 2, 2010

When cooking up the stuff of life, you can’t just substitute margarine for butter. Or so scientists thought.

But now researchers have coaxed a microbe to build itself with arsenic in the place of phosphorus, an unprecedented substitution of one of the six essential ingredients of life. The bacterium appears to have incorporated a form of arsenic into its cellular machinery, and even its DNA, scientists report online December 2 in Science.

Arsenic is toxic and is thought to be too chemicall...

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