Tuesday, April 21, 2009


The first alien metagenome: shorter than expected

C. Vientre, E.T. Weirdo, J.J. Binks, A. Skywalker Jr. & N. Ibáñez-Serrador
Medinaceli Center for Astrobiology (MECA), Soria, Earth

Searching for life in planets other than Earth is a common pastime among Astrobiologists when they run short of Sudokus, as well as a major challenge for mankind. A major reason is that once that biodiversity in Earth will be devastated, a different source of biodiversity to screw up must be found somewhere else. Since travelling to other planets is not satisfactorily covered by low-cost airlines, a sensible idea is to capture extraterrestrial debris on the earth cortex and search within for biologic material. A piece of meteorite found serendipitously in a jar of garbanzo beans was treated with a blowtorch to eliminate contaminant earthly life beings from its surface, then it was sliced in an sterile environment with an ionic laser cut-and-fix tomograph and the core of the specimen isolated. Since PCR with universal primers failed to recover DNA from the piece (we suggest they should not be called universal any more), we used random short cosmic (RSC) oligonucleotides (Madoff Biotech., Inc). The amplicons were cloned in cosmid vectors and 66,667 clones were sequenced by high throughput technology and assembled into contigs by a team of skilled bioinformaticians using a Spectrum processor. Surprisingly, one only contig consisting of one only base was assembled after this effort, which read 5’-A-3’. We conclude that the extraterrestrial ecosystem consisted of one only alien being with a very limited genomic plasticity. The being was named Alien alpha, for it marks the beginning of Xenobiology. Taking into account that at least three A. alpha would have to cooperate to build up a codon, probably their ability to express their genetic information depends on strict alphabetic co-operation or, alternatively, is greatly restricted by illiteracy. In sum, unless some aspect of its biology is not clear to us yet, either this form of life is very simple, or its intelligence is so sublime that it is badly making fun of our current knowledge.

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