Two new studies released Sunday cast more doubt on a 2010 report that said some bacteria are able to survive on arsenic. That would break a fundamental rule of life and seemed to suggest very different forms of life could exist on other planets.
The original report said the bacteria, from Lake Mono in California, used arsenic in place of phosphorus. That was surprising because all life is supposed to need phosphorus, and of course arsenic is a poison.
The new research papers say the original conclusion is wrong and that the bacteria do indeed still need phosphorus.
The lead author of the original work, Felisa Wolfe-Simon, said she stands by her conclusions.