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extreme lifeform
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Bacillus odysseyi is a Gram-positive, aerobic, rod-shaped, round-spore- and endospore-forming eubacterium of the Bacillus genus. This novel species was discovered by scientist Kasthuri Venkateswaran of NASAs Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group, a unit whose purpose is to clean and sterilize spacecraft so as not to have microorganisms contaminate other celestial bodies or foreign microorganisms contaminate Earth, on the surface of the Mars Odyssey in a clean room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Caņada Flintridge before the spacecraft was launched to space.
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Antarctic microbes live life to the extreme

You might not expect bacteria living in Antarctic ice to be well suited to life in a boiling kettle, but that is what Chilean scientists discovered during an expedition last year. The researchers have turned up more than 200 new species of microorganisms adapted to living in extreme environments.
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Microbe that feeds off arsenic alters search for life

Researchers have discovered a strange microbe that can use arsenic as a nutrient, a finding they say could change how scientists search for new life forms on Earth and elsewhere.
Until now, six major elements -- carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulphur -- were considered essential for life. The discovery of the new bacterium throws that assumption on its head.

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Arsenic-eating microbe may redefine chemistry of life

A bacterium found in the arsenic-filled waters of a Californian lake is poised to overturn scientists' understanding of the biochemistry of living organisms. The microbe seems to be able to replace phosphorus with arsenic in some of its basic cellular processes - suggesting the possibility of a biochemistry very different from the one we know, which could be used by organisms in past or present extreme environments on Earth, or even on other planets.
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Title: Did nature also choose arsenic?
Authors: Wolfe-Simon, Felisa; Davies, Paul C. W.; Anbar, Ariel D.

All known life requires phosphorus (P) in the form of inorganic phosphate (PO4 ^3- or Pi) and phosphate-containing organic molecules. Pi serves as the backbone of the nucleic acids that constitute genetic material and as the major repository of chemical energy for metabolism in polyphosphate bonds. Arsenic (As) lies directly below P on the periodic table and so the two elements share many chemical properties, although their chemistries are sufficiently dissimilar that As cannot directly replace P in modern biochemistry. Arsenic is toxic because As and P are similar enough that organisms attempt this substitution. We hypothesise that ancient biochemical systems, analogous to but distinct from those known today, could have utilised arsenate in the equivalent biological role as phosphate. Organisms utilising such 'weird life' biochemical pathways may have supported a 'shadow biosphere' at the time of the origin and early evolution of life on Earth or on other planets. Such organisms may even persist on Earth today, undetected, in unusual niches.

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Deinococcus radiodurans
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Hardy bugs could survive a million years on Mars

It was already nicknamed "Conan the Bacterium" for its ability to withstand radiation. Now it seems Deinococcus radiodurans could, in theory, survive dormant on Mars for over a million years.
Lewis Dartnell at University College London and colleagues froze the bugs to -79 °C, the average temperature at Mars's mid-latitudes. Then they zapped them with gamma rays to simulate the dose they would receive under 30 centimetres of Martian soil over long periods of time.
The team worked out that it could take 1.2 million years under these conditions to shrink a population of the bacteria to a millionth of its original size.

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Title: Microbial Life in a Liquid Asphalt Desert
Authors: Dirk Schulze-Makuch, Shirin Haque, Marina Resendes de Sousa Antonio, Denzil Ali, Riad Hosein, Young C. Song, Jinshu Yang, Elena Zaikova, Denise M. Beckles, Edward Guinan, Harry J. Lehto, Steven J. Hallam

An active microbiota, reaching up to 10 E+7 cells/g, was found to inhabit a naturally occurring asphalt lake characterised by low water activity and elevated temperature. Geochemical and molecular taxonomic approaches revealed novel and deeply branching microbial assemblages mediating anaerobic hydrocarbon degradation, metal respiration and C1 utilisation pathways. These results open a window into the origin and adaptive evolution of microbial life within recalcitrant hydrocarbon matrices, and establish the site as a useful analogue for the liquid hydrocarbon environments on Saturn's moon Titan.

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First oxygen-free animals found

Scientists have found the first animals that can survive and reproduce entirely without oxygen, deep on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea.
The team, led by Roberto Danovaro from Marche Polytechnic University in Ancona, Italy, found three new species from the Loricifera group.

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Microbes thrive in harsh, Mars-like lakes

Life not only survives but thrives in Australian lakes where conditions may be as harsh as those on ancient Mars, a new DNA analysis suggests.
Minerals on Mars studied by the NASA rovers suggest water once flowed on the planet's surface, but was very salty and acidic, raising doubts about whether it could have supported life.
But in 2007, Melanie Mormile of Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla and colleagues cultured a bacterium from water sampled from one of several salty, acidic lakes in Western Australia.

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Red Sea Urchins Discovered to Be One of Earth's Oldest Animals

4 Nov 2003

A new study has concluded that the red sea urchin, a small spiny invertebrate that lives in shallow coastal waters, is among the longest living animals on Earth - they can live to be 100 years old, and some may reach 200 years or more in good health with few signs of age.
In other words, an individual red sea urchin that hatched on the day in 1805 that Lewis and Clark arrived in Oregon may still be thriving - and even breeding. The research was just published in a professional journal, the U.S. Fishery Bulletin, by scientists from Oregon State University and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

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The red sea urchin found in the shallow waters of the Pacific Ocean is one of the Earth's longest-living animals.
The small, spiny creature can last for more than 200 years with few signs of age-related disease, a US research team from Oregon and California has found.

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