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NASA scientists have discovered a strange new bacterium that eats arsenic and incorporates it into their DNA stream, the discovery has been heralded by scientists as monumental and may change the way we understand life on earth.

"We have cracked open the door to what is possible for life elsewhere in the universe," Felisa Wolfe-Simon of the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA Astrobiology Institute, who led the study, told a news conference.

The bacteria, Halomonadaceae, were found in an other-worldly salt lake in California called Mono Lake.

The study was published in the journal Science, revealing that one of the world's most deadly poisons can also be the basis for life for some life forms.

"It grew and it thrived and that was amazing. Nothing should have grown," Wolfe-Simon told a news conference, suggesting that scientists' entire understanding of what is needed for life forms to grow may be extremely limited.

What researchers found particularly impressive was that the bacteria didn't just consume arsenic but built itself up using the poison, adding it to their DNA stream, suggesting an interesting link to the theory of evolution.

The study shows that scientists looking for life on other planets do not need to limit their search solely to those planets that contain conditions similar to Earth.


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