Life as we Know It

Reply Tue 17 Mar, 2009 06:57 am

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- Indian scientists have discovered three new species of bacteria in Earth's upper stratosphere that are resistant to ultraviolet radiation, researchers said.

The bacteria do not match any species found on Earth. They were found in samples that scientists collected when they sent a balloon into the stratosphere, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said in a statement Monday.

That layer of the Earth receives heavy doses of ultraviolet radiation, enough to kill most organisms.

In their analyses of the retrieved samples, microbiologists detected 12 bacterial and six fungal colonies.

Of them, three bacterial colonies were new species, the ISRO said.
Indian scientists named one of them Janibacter hoylei, after astrophysicist Fred Hoyle.

"While the present study does not conclusively establish the extraterrestrial origin of microorganisms, it does provide positive encouragement to continue the work in our quest to explore the origin of life," the ISRO said.

While this may or may not bode well for the existence of extraterrestrial beings, I think it adds yet another twist on our definition of "Life as we know it".

A while back, when organisms were discovered to be living in undersea vocanic vents (where the temperatures reach astounding heights), we had to redefine where and how life can evolve or even live. This new tidbit, forces us yet again to revise the paradigm methinks.

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Reply Tue 17 Mar, 2009 07:03 am
I'll try and find the journal article this was published in. The trick for these scientists will be to prove that the bacteria were not contaminants that they brought up there. They'll also need to find a way to cultivate them under conditions in which they can survive, and do genetic analysis to see where they fit in the among known organisms.

What would be most interesting to me would be to learn whether they have novel metabolic pathways that use non-visible light for photosynthesis.

* edit -- looks like this is unpublished -- they'll probably publish it in a year or two after working on it in a lab.
Reply Tue 17 Mar, 2009 02:05 pm
Very interesting. Some kind of bacteria was discovered in the atacama desert fairly recently, which is suprising because the atacama desert receives on average about one inch of rain per century. Life is quite the thing.
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Bostonian phil
Reply Thu 2 Apr, 2009 08:05 am
Khethil wrote:

While this may or may not bode well for the existence of extraterrestrial beings, I think it adds yet another twist on our definition of "Life as we know it".

I disagree. I myself don't think that will change the concept of "Life as we know it" in anyway. "Life as we know it" can be said to be defined by certain properties. A list of which is found here
Life - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The list seems which seems accurate. It includes homeostasis, organization, metabolism, growth, adaptation, response to stimuli and reproduction. If someone found an entity that exhibited some, but not all, of these properties then that could be said to be "life as we know it."

If the above mentioned article is correct then its just another example of an extremophile.
Extremophile - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

To be precise its an example of a radioresistant life form. Radioresistant life forms have already been discovered. Radioresistance - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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