Tuesday, December 14, 2010


 Recently in the news, NASA discovered bacteria that had a special type of DNA. Organic DNA was thought to be a template, being the only kind of DNA possible. This DNA is bound simply like this:
 The phosphates bind the sugars together, creating a 'backbone'. But in the newly discovered bacteria, it was found that Arsenic, a poisonous substance, was binding to the DNA. Called GFAJ-1, These bacteria live in an Arsenic lake in California. According to a different blogger, scientists can't yet be sure if the Arsenic is binding to the DNA or if it is simply sticking to it. This is due to several natural examples of Arsenic attaching to DNA, but not binding to it. Find that blogger here: http://scienceblogs.com/digitalbio/2010/12/where_can_we_find_arsenic_in_a.php. I simply skipped over this step of finding whether or not these bind or attach. I am considering the possibility of life on Titan, one of Saturn's many moons.

Titan is covered in thousands of methane lakes, and I hypothesize that we may find bacteria similar to GFAJ-1 in these lakes. I've decided to call this bacteria GFAJ-2, for simplistic sake. My proof:

                           (The following can be seen in picture below, on the left)
In a sugar ring, 4 carbons and 1 oxygen form the ring, , while the remaining 1 carbon atom, 10 hydrogen atoms, and 3 oxygen atoms attach to these correspondingly. But if you notice in the picture, the one oxygen seems to not have bonded to anything. Methane has a chemical makeup of CH4, which I believe could properly bind to that lone oxygen. The lone oxygen has 8 electrons, while the methane molecule shares 10 altogether. These molecules could form an covalent bond, filling the first three shells of the standard atom.

Now you may be thinking that a gas (methane at room temperature) could not bond with a solid (sugar at room temperature). Well, on Titan, its roughly -290 degrees Fahrenheit. You'll find that Methane solidifies at -296.5 degrees Fahrenheit. So if the methane is solidified, it may be possible for it to bond to the sugar. And if you're thinking that this is impossible, for bacteria to survive at -290 degrees Fahrenheit, on earth there is bacteria that can survive much more extreme conditions, called extremophiles.

This is why I believe a molecule like GFAJ-2 could exist, but I am only a freshman in high school, so I do not know a lot about biology yet. But if you would reply and help me, I would greatly appreciate it.