Live bacteria have been found inside a meteorite and the scientists who cultured it say that the bacteria is not from the earth. If true, this would help prove the theory that life was brought to earth via meteorites.

Bruno D’Argenio, a geologist working for the Italian National Research Council, and Giuseppe Geraci, of Naples University, brought back to life microorganisms lodged inside 4.5 million year old meteorites kept at Naples’ mineralogical museum. The bacteria remained dormant for billions of years and survived extreme conditions, an indication, according to the researchers, that ?life can exist everywhere in the solar system, though in a quiescent state.

The bacteria were cloned and their DNA was analyzed. "Their genetic code is unlike any known on earth," says Giovanni F. Bignami, of the Italian Space Agency. The proof that these bacteria are not from the earth, according to the research team, is that they survived being scalded with water and washed with alcohol, which would eliminate surface-dwelling earth microbes.

But David Wynn-William, of the British Antarctic Survey, claims the bacteria could have invaded the meteorite as it lay in the museum, to depths where it would not be affected by heat or alcohol. The newly-discovered bacteria are quickly killed by antibiotics.

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