The fundamental backbone of life is unbending, according to two new studies — a plucky bacterium from a California lake cannot substitute a poisonous substance for phosphorus after all. The results address the question of whether GFAJ-1, as the bacterium is known, is "weird life" with implications for astrobiology.
Since the Viking Mars probes traveled to the red planet back in 1976, NASA has sent several more probes, landers, and rovers to the Martian surface to study the planet’s geology and search for signs of microbial life. But the evidence for life may have been hidden in Viking’s data all along. A new analysis of the data collected by probes Viking 1 and Viking 2 suggest the missions found evidence of microbial life more than three decades ago.
Aside from ancient Mars, the moons of Saturn might be one of the best places to look for life outside this planet. The methane lakes of Titan are promising places, but so are the spewing plumes of ice on Enceladus — and the latter would be an easy one to check, as it turns out.
As the world — and its landfills and water treatment plants — get more and more crowded, future houses will have to cut down on their waste. Or they could just repurpose it. For instance, they could use household sludge to feed bioluminescent bacteria to light up a room. It’s so simple! Really!
Raw sewage is apparently a gold mine for virologists in search of new quarry — it contains thousands of previously unknown virus species, according to a new study. Hopefully this unique finding will justify the nasty task of sifting through sewage for science.
Clusters of islands poked through hot oceans 3.4 billion years ago, when the world still had no oxygen and the seas churned under a pallid, overcast sky. But life thrived on Earth even then, scientists say — and now they have the world’s oldest fossils to prove it.
There were no plants or algae to photosynthesize and produce oxygen, so microbial life used sulfur for energy and growth, researchers say. Microfossils of these earliest microbes extend the sandstone record of life on Earth by about 300 million years.
Call it a twist on the study of gut bacteria. Scientists sampling DNA strains from the navels of volunteer donors have found 662 microbes that are apparently new to science, showing that the human navel is apparently a ripe environment for bacteria.