Photosynthesis originated a billion years earlier than we thought, study shows

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Photosynthesis originated a billion years earlier than we thought, study shows

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:04 pm

Photosynthesis originated a billion years earlier than we thought, study shows

Date: March 6, 2018

Source: Elsevier

Summary: The earliest oxygen-producing microbes may not have been cyanobacteria. Ancient microbes may have been producing oxygen through photosynthesis a billion years earlier than we thought, which means oxygen was available for living organisms very close to the origin of life on earth. Researchers studied the molecular machines responsible for photosynthesis and found the process may have evolved as long as 3.6 billion years ago.

The earliest oxygen-producing microbes may not have been cyanobacteria.

Ancient microbes may have been producing oxygen through photosynthesis a billion years earlier than we thought, which means oxygen was available for living organisms very close to the origin of life on earth. In a new article in Heliyon, a researcher from Imperial College London studied the molecular machines responsible for photosynthesis and found the process may have evolved as long as 3.6 billion years ago.

The author of the study, Dr. Tanai Cardona, says the research can help to solve the controversy around when organisms started producing oxygen -- something that was vital to the evolution of life on earth. It also suggests that the microorganisms we previously believed to be the first to produce oxygen -- cyanobacteria -- evolved later, and that simpler bacteria produced oxygen first.

"My results mean that the process that sustains almost all life on earth today may have been doing so for a lot longer than we think," said Dr. Cardona. "It may have been that the early availability of oxygen was what allowed microbes to diversify and dominate the world for billions of years. What allowed microbes to escape the cradle where life arose and conquer every corner of this world, more than 3 billion years ago."

Photosynthesis is the process that sustains complex life on earth -- all of the oxygen on our planet comes from photosynthesis. There are two types of photosynthesis: oxygenic and anoxygenic. Oxygenic photosynthesis uses light energy to split water molecules, releasing oxygen, electrons and protons. Anoxygenic photosynthesis use compounds like hydrogen sulfide or minerals like iron or arsenic instead of water, and it does not produce oxygen.


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