In addition to this Mono Lake discovery changing the basic understanding of life — oh, you know, no big deal — some scientists say that this outstanding finding could mean great things for the advancement of green technology. First off, because this microbe literally builds itself out of arsenic, it could be a key element in cleaning up arsenic laden toxic waste areas. Just throw a bunch of the tiny organisms into the mess and they’ll eat up all of the arsenic. The other key discovery has to do with revolutionizing green energy.
Phosphorus has been integral to the formation of fertilizers and is part of the reason that ethanol — which is heavily built on phosphorus — is currently being phased out as a source of alternative energy. It takes a ton of phosphorous to grow crops that will yield ethanol and phosphorus is becoming scarcer by the minute. We’ve got a ton of arsenic lying around — that most of us don’t want anywhere near us — so researchers are expected to get to work trying to figure out if an arsenic-based ethanol could be created. In addition to the possible arsenic-based ethanol being a good alternative fuel, as a crop it is attractive because its unique chemical building blocks would make it unattractive to outside pests — read: no pesticides or fungicides needed.