Fwd: [isml] Scientists Claim to Revive and Clone Alien Bacteria
- Subject: [isml] Scientists Claim to Revive and Clone Alien Bacteria
From: Andrew Hennessey, pegasus@...
*Scientists Claim to Revive Alien Bacteria
By Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News
May 10 Äî Italian researchers claim to have found conclusive evidence that
life on Earth arrived from outer space.
Bruno D'Argenio, a geologist working for the Italian National Research
Council, and Giuseppe Geraci, professor of molecular biology at Naples
University, identified and brought back to life extraterrestrial
microorganisms lodged inside 4.5 billion-year-old meteorites kept at Naples'
"When in contact with a physiological solution, they became visible and began
to move," D'Argenio said while presenting the finding at the Italian Space
The bacteria, called "cryms" (for crystal microbes) by the researchers,
remained dormant for billions of years and survived extreme ambient
conditions Äî a clear indication, according to the researchers, that "life can
exist everywhere in the solar system, though in a quiescent state."
Once brought back to life, the cryms were cloned by the researchers and their
"Their genetic code is unlike any known on Earth," said Giovanni F. Bignami,
scientific director of the Italian Space Agency.
In studying the bacteria, the team found that they tend to gather in
clusters. The bugs are also killed easily with antibiotics.
Disputing critics who suggested that the meteorites were contaminated with
terrestrial microorganisms, Bignami added that the bacteria came back to life
after the samples were sterilized at 950 degrees Celsius and doused in
The discovery, if borne out, would strengthened the "panspermia" theory,
first suggested by chemist Svante Aarhenius in 1900. According to this
theory, outer space seeded Earth with primitive life forms about 4 billion
years ago. The theory was recently supported by Nobel Prize winner Francis
Crick, as well as noted scientists Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe.
"Life would have formed as an initial seed in the protoplanetary nebula from
which all the planets originated. This microorganism can be found ... in
planetary bodies and in the meteors fallen to Earth," said Bignami.
The Italian researchers have also identified microorganisms identical to the
"cryms" found in the Naples meteorites in 50 samples of billion-year-old
terrestrial rocks from five continents.
"I'm skeptical, very skeptical," biologist Martino Rizzotti of Padua
University told the daily newspaper La Stampa. "Those bacteria seem to be too
similar to the terrestrial ones. I can't avoid thinking about possible
Margherita Hack, director of the Inter-University Regional Center for
Astrophysics and Cosmology in Trieste, is more positive. "It is very likely
that life is spread in universe. This is an interesting result, but it
requires more study to be completely accepted," she said.
Today the researchers present their findings at the Accademia dei Lincei
(Academy of the Lynxes) in Rome, a prestigious scholarly organization that
counts Galileo Galilei among its members.