[meteorite-list] Arsenic Bacteria Hoax

From: Richard Montgomery <rickmont_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 9 Jul 2012 20:00:39 -0700
Message-ID: <A8DBF66F435F437382728D967B093F6C_at_bosoheadPC>

Hi List, below, a (non-meteoritic) arsenic story related to water and gold
in Alleghany, CA at the original Sixteen to One Mine is summarized by me
below....if anyone is interested please contact me off-list for more info
and stuff....

BRIEFLY: all ambient water arsenic ppms upstream from OAu have arsenopyrite
origin, indiginous to the fault-zone geology, as well as within and
below....political opportunists point to Original Sixteen to One (hard-rock
metal-detection extraction only) for the ambient levels above EPA standards,
disregarding natural and historic deposit levels, and for the last 10 years
the battle here has been waged with no regard to true science. Crap
litigation, instead, has impeded.

Check www.origsix.com or contact me.

Richard Montgomery

----- Original Message -----
From: "Howard Wu" <freewu2000 at yahoo.com>
To: <meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com>
Sent: Monday, July 09, 2012 4:38 PM
Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] Arsenic Bacteria Hoax

This current news story is as unfortunate as the original NASA story spin of
Wolf-Simon's article release two years ago. Hoax implies a deliberate
fabrication of evidence. There's no call here to insult the personal
integrity of the scientists for publishing their earlier experimental
observations on the Mono Lake arsenic tolerant bacteria. Also never
concluded in the original experiments would be that arsenate could
completely replace phophate, just that it might have been substituted for
less than one percent of phosphorus at a cost. They weren't looking for any
kind of attention themselves to create this a publicity stunt. Just over
zealot news media spun into action by an interesting preliminary report.
Looking forward to reading the actual article when available and new studies
to follow.

From: JoshuaTreeMuseum <joshuatreemuseum at embarqmail.com>
To: meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com
Sent: Sunday, July 8, 2012 9:06 PM
Subject: [meteorite-list] Arsenic Bacteria Hoax

Turns out it was a bogus publicity stunt:

Journal retreats from controversial arsenic paper

By Marc Kaufman, Updated: Sunday, July 8, 10:05 PMThe Washington Post
Two new studies of controversial research on a bacterium found in
California's arsenic-rich Mono Lake led the journal Science on Sunday to say
that the 2010 paper it published on the microbe was incorrect in some of its
major findings.
The original research, which also had been highlighted by NASA, reported
that the bacterium could live in an environment with very high arsenic and
very low phosphorus - one of the six elements known to be present in all
living things. It consequently raised the possibility of life forms now or
previously on Earth that break what had been accepted as a universal rule of

two new studies of the bacterium, GFAJ-1, reported that it could not grow
without the presence of phosphorus. The ?papers also challenged the original
finding that small amounts of arsenic compounds had replaced phosphorus
compounds in some DNA, membranes and other biologically central parts of the
"Contrary to an original report, the new research clearly shows that the
bacterium, GFAJ-1, cannot substitute arsenic for phosphorus to survive," the
journal concluded in a formal statement.
"The new research shows that GFAJ-1 does not break the long-held rules of
life, contrary to how [lead author Felisa] Wolfe-Simon had interpreted her
group's data."
Nonetheless, Science wrote that it would look with interest at further
research regarding the bacterium, which it called "an extraordinarily
resistant organism that should be of interest for further study,
particularly related to arsenic-tolerance mechanisms."
Wolfe-Simon, now on a NASA
fellowship at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is collaborating
with senior scientist John A. Tainer on wide-ranging studies of the
bacterium. In an interview Saturday, Wolfe-Simon and Tainer said that they
had produced tentative results in the Berkeley lab almost identical to the
original results at a U.S. Geological Survey laboratory, and that they were
busy finishing the research and preparing another paper.
Tainer said the two new studies in Science may have come to different
results than theirs because of the methodologies used, the precision used to
detect arsenates and the provenance of the cells. He said the authors of the
two new papers "may well regret some of their statements" in the future.
"There are many reasons not to find things - I don't find my keys some
mornings," he said. "That doesn't mean they don't exist. The absence of a
finding is not definitive."
Wolfe-Simon and her numerous collaborators had made samples of
GFAJ-1 broadly available after her initial results caused a storm of
controversy, but she and Tainer said they may have been contaminated or
modified in transit.
She said that all the researchers agreed that the bacterium survived in
extraordinarily high levels of usually toxic arsenic compounds but that they
disagreed about whether the organism used the arsenic compound to grow and
whether it had incorporated the arsenic into its biology.
"I think it's unclear whether this is the last word," ?Wolfe-Simon said.
"They're not finding something that could be there in a minor amount."
One of the new studies in Science was conducted by a team centered at
Princeton University that included Rosemary Redfield of the University of
British Columbia. She was one of the first and most vocal critics of the
original Wolfe-Simon paper, and she said Sunday she was satisfied with how
the process has played out.
"A very flawed paper was published and
received an inordinate amount of publicity," she wrote in an e-mail. "But
other researchers responded very quickly. .?.?. Now refutations of the work
by two independent research groups are appearing in the same high-profile
journal, and the refutations are being well publicized. This is how science
is supposed to work."
The new study Redfield was part of did not find any microbial growth when
arsenates were provided to the bacteria without phosphates. Wolfe-Simon had
initially reported that the bacterium grew when phosphorus compounds were
withheld but arsenic compounds were provided. The new study also found no
biologically mediated arsenic in the microbe's DNA, as ?Wolfe?Simon had
The paper concludes that the bacterium is an extreme life form but one that
has adapted to its environment in a manner similar to many others that live
in conditions long thought to be unsuitable for life.
The second new study in Science came from a
research group in Switzerland. That group also found no growth in the
bacteria in a medium with arsenic compounds but no phosphorus. The paper
suggested that Wolfe?Simon's initial finding may have missed the presence of
extremely small amounts of phosphorus in the arsenic medium, which then
allowed the bacterium to grow.
The paper reported that the GFAJ-1 bacteria survived in a culture that had a
ratio of arsenate to phosphate of 10,000 to 1, while other known
arsenic-resistant microbes had ratios that were much lower. As a result,
they concluded, the bacteria was a good candidate for further study.

Phil Whitmer
Joshua Tree Earth & Space Museum

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Received on Mon 09 Jul 2012 11:00:39 PM PDT

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