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Comment: Re:How much you ask (Score 1) 405

by bucaneer (#34419896) Attached to: NASA Finds New Life (This Afternoon)
Didn't say it was mundane. The mechanisms that are responsible for basic molecular biology (DNA replication, transcription and translation of genes, nucleotide synthesis, etc) tend to be exceptionally well preserved across all domains of life, and in this particular case, a big mutation somewhere in there managed to be adaptive, which is extraordinary. This discovery and the inevitable decades of future work on this species from every field of biology/biochemistry is without doubt Nobel material. However, it wouldn't change much of the wider theoretical background about origins of life, evolution and whatnot.

Comment: Re:Great (Score 1) 405

by bucaneer (#34418498) Attached to: NASA Finds New Life (This Afternoon)
The Gizmodo article only says that these new bacteria have arsenic instead of phosphorus in their DNA, which is not enough information to understand just how ground-breaking it is. Mind you, arsenic is in the same group as phosphorus, so their chemical properties are comparable. If the rest of their chemical makeup is the same (deoxyribose for a sugar, same set of nitrogenous bases, etc), then it's most probable that they evolved from regular bacteria under the extreme conditions of that lake (such as lack of phoshorus and over-abundance of arsenic). While that would be extremely interesting for biochemists, microbiologists and other scientists, it won't change our general understanding of life much. Now, if arsenic was just the first indication that this form of life is different, and further study will reveal completely different biochemistry as well, then we can talk about possible implications for extra-terrestrial life and all that universally exciting stuff.

Comment: Re:The DNA code is universal (Score 1) 368

by bucaneer (#28635437) Attached to: Human Sperm Produced In the Laboratory
The code might be (well, is) universal, but the control of what is translated at any given time is not. If you put human genome into a plant cell, you definitely won't produce a human, because cytoplasmic determinants that are present in human eggs are required to make sense of it all. Strict regulation of genes is crucial to the correct development of an organism, and the regulatory factors tend to be species-specific. Other stuff that has been mentioned (methylation, unique structure of genes, etc) also make things difficult.

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