A strange bacterium found in California’s Mono Lake cannot replace the phosphorus in its DNA with arsenic, according to researchers who have been trying to reproduce the results of a controversial report published in Science in 20101.
A group of scientists, led by microbiologist Rosie Redfield at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, have posted data on Redfield’s blog that, she says, present a “clear refutation” of key findings from the paper.
But the authors of the Science paper are not retreating from their conclusions. “We are thrilled that our results are stimulating more experiments from the community as well as ourselves,” first author Felisa Wolfe-Simon, now at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, wrote in an e-mail to Nature. “We do not fully understand the key details of the website experiments and conditions. So we hope to see this work published in a peer-reviewed journal, as this is how science best proceeds.”
Tip: @Anxiousmedic on Twitter
Scientists fight about this stuff. And that’s OK. It is ironic that Wolfe-Simon remarks upon peer-review since her discovery was announced on TV before it had been digested by the scientific community. No one was available at that point to really question the announcement that left the public quite confused about what had just happened.
Science by press conference is a BAD idea. There is a process by which you can hash things out. I’m not clear that fighting a bad move with a blog post is the way forward. I don’t like science by blog either.