Arsenic-Eating Bacteria?

Spencer Groden



            Wolfe-Simon et al. (1) performed an experiment in 2010 that resulted in the “discovery,” of a class of microbes that can synthesize arsenate in place of phosphate.  There are only six essential elements that living organisms explicitly require, but there are countless combinations of other elements that can be lethal.  Arsenate is supposedly one of those lethal combinations.  The first research article covered in this microreview postulated the existence of a bacterial species that can alter the chemical composition of their biomolecular structures; DNA, nucleic acids, etc.

            The second research article was published in 2012 and its basis is the refutation of the first article’s hypothesis.  It shows the numerous flaws in the experiment and gives specific clues as to why Wolfe-Simon et al. could have come to the conclusion they did.

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