We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Using arsenic. Well, it still must have DNA of some sort, I think, or some comparable sort of replicatory mechanism. This may be a bigger deal, or a smaller deal, than I think. A smaller deal, most likely, but still quite interesting from a biochem standpoint.
I did take a year of Biochem in college. Stupid not to, unles ignorance is your academic pursuit. (I used to want to be an informed journalist who understood math and science and statistics and real life, etc. Quit that field for business a while ago, as our readers know. They were fun guys and gals, but they didn't know squat about life, much less algebra. I work much harder, now, and learn more. Less time for Maggie's right now. These days, working in journalism is like working in non-profits - minimal challenge and accountability in a sickening atmosphere of self-congratulatory virtue with a political edge, while trying to collect money from people who make it and do real things in the world. Been there, done that. Glad I escaped that strange, insular world.)
h/t, Insty - who should be working today instead of blogging.
DNA refers to the chemical structure of the molecule, not it's genetic role. DNA is a polymer. The main backbone of the polymer is a chain of ribose (a type of sugar) molecules linked to each other via shared phosphate ions (PO4, with a triple negative charge). Attached to each ribose molecule is one of four purine or pyrimidine molecules. If whatever this thing uses for genetic material doesn't have phosphate in it, it's not DNA, it's something else.
News Junkie, you are so right. I started out in news broadcasting and left it for corporate communications after I realized my politics would never let me survive, never mind that I wasn't a beauty queen. Twenty years in corporate America, and now (since TARP and the bailouts and Obama) that role has also been politicized, which the chief "public" for any publicly-owned company being the federal government. One of my college friends is a communications director at GM and I don't know how she can live with herself.
I haven't worked for the past three years and am not sure where to turn next. Interesting.
The bacterium, which grows in arsenic-rich Mono Lake, substitutes arsenate for phosphate in both DNA and RNA. This happens only under severe phosphate deficiency, the bacterium normally uses phosphate in its DNA and RNA.
Arsenate and phosphate have very similar chemistries (same group), but arsenate compounds are more likely to hydrolyze and break down.
A striking discovery, but no aliens here. They're all in the underground store rooms at Wright Paterson AFB in OH, about 2 hours from Kenyon College.
If I understood what I heard, this life form does something unique among life forms on Earth. That means three things:
1. It might have come from elsewhere
2. Life may turn up in environments we thought were sterile but in forms we weren't looking for -- Mars, Io, Titan?
3. Possibly other life forms have landed and died out in environments that killed them
You like that last one?