'New Bacteria' found in Antarctic Lake

  1. Greg Bernhardt

    Staff: Admin

    http://news.discovery.com/earth/russia-finds-new-bacteria-antarctic-lake-130307.htm

     
  2. jcsd
  3. Monique

    Monique 4,699
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    New organisms are discovered every day.. would this be an ancient bacterium of some sort or did they mention they couldn't identify descendants? The article isn't very clear.
     
  4. Well, it would a whole new evolutionary branch of bacteria that likely has little to no gene transfer with the rest of the earth.
     
  5. Curious3141

    Curious3141 2,970
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    In Capitalist Russia, you find bacteria.

    In Soviet Russia, bacteria find you. :biggrin:

    Anyway, it's a false alarm. http://phys.org/news/2013-03-russia-life-antarctic-lake.html

    The only scientifically accurate thing we can say about this whole escapade is that now there's a great likelihood these scientists have queered the pitch for others by contaminating a once "pristine" environment.

    A slight (albeit relevant) digression: the level of confidence with which one can state that no life (not even spores) exist on an object is called a "Sterility Assurance Level". You might think that the highest SALs would be found in surgical applications - like neurosurgical operating theatres, where even a small risk of infection can prove disastrous. But you would be wrong. The highest artificially achievable SALs are found in outer-space unmanned expeditionary equipment, e.g. the probes used to test for the presence of extraterrestrial life on Mars. This is to provide a great deal of assurance that whatever is found on such an expedition is legitimate.

    Considering that, an admission of contamination of this sort of Antarctic environment not only negates their own findings, it also makes follow-up work next to impossible.
     
  6. Monique

    Monique 4,699
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    If it were contaminants, how could they have thought it was a previously unknown life form?
     
  7. Curious3141

    Curious3141 2,970
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    Beats me. But I had a great deal of skepticism about the initial reports anyway. There was simply not enough detail for a scientifically informed observer (like a microbiologist - and I'm one) to make a judgement of the validity of the claim. For instance, it was not at all clear what method/metric they were using to judge genetic distance - whole genome sequencing? Or something more limited like 16s rDNA sequencing? Because the latter method, while widespread and very easy to do, is quite imperfect even more many known and well-characterised genera. And what database were they using - BLAST or something else? What search criteria?

    After Pons and Fleischmann, you'd think the popular science press would be more cautious and circumspect, but you'd be wrong.
     
  8. Well this is what the russians said, don't know about the legitimacy

    And the last two lines dont necessarily mean anything
     
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