Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .


Subscribe free to our newsletters via your




















EARLY EARTH
Photosynthesis more ancient than thought, and most living things could do it
by Staff Writers
London, UK (SPX) Mar 18, 2016


File image.

Photosynthesis is the process by which plants, algae and cyanobacteria use the energy from the Sun to make sugar from water and carbon dioxide, releasing oxygen as a waste product. But a few groups of bacteria carry out a simpler form of photosynthesis that does not produce oxygen, which evolved first.

A new study by an Imperial researcher suggests that this more primitive form of photosynthesis evolved in much more ancient bacteria than scientists had imagined, more than 3.5 billion years ago.

Photosynthesis sustains life on Earth today by releasing oxygen into the atmosphere and providing energy for food chains. The rise of oxygen-producing photosynthesis allowed the evolution of complex life forms like animals and land plants around 2.4 billion years ago.

However, the first type of photosynthesis that evolved did not produce oxygen. It was known to have first evolved around 3.5-3.8 billion years ago, but until now, scientists thought that one of the groups of bacteria alive today that still uses this more primitive photosynthesis was the first to evolve the ability.

But the new research reveals that a more ancient bacteria, that probably no longer exists today, was actually the first to evolve the simpler form of photosynthesis, and that this bacteria was an ancestor to most bacteria alive today.

"The picture that is starting to emerge is that during the first half of Earth's history the majority of life forms were probably capable of photosynthesis," said study author Dr Tanai Cardona, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London.

The more primitive form of photosynthesis is known as anoxygenic photosynthesis, which uses molecules such as hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide, or iron as fuel - instead of water.

Traditionally, scientists had assumed that one of the groups of bacteria that still use anoxygenic photosynthesis today evolved the ability and then passed it on to other bacteria using horizontal gene transfer - the process of donating an entire set of genes, in this case those required for photosynthesis, to unrelated organisms.

However, Dr Cardona created an evolutionary tree for the bacteria by analyzing the history of a protein essential for anoxygenic photosynthesis. Through this, he was able to uncover a much more ancient origin for photosynthesis.

Instead of one group of bacteria evolving the ability and transferring it to others, Dr Cardona's analysis reveals that anoxygenic photosynthesis evolved before most of the groups of bacteria alive today branched off and diversified. The results are published in the journal PLOS ONE.

"Pretty much every group of photosynthetic bacteria we know of has been suggested, at some point or another, to be the first innovators of photosynthesis," said Dr Cardona. "But this means that all these groups of bacteria would have to have branched off from each other before anoxygenic photosynthesis evolved, around 3.5 billion years ago.

"My analysis has instead shown that anoxygenic photosynthesis predates the diversification of bacteria into modern groups, so that they all should have been able to do it. In fact, the evolution of oxygneic photosynthesis probably led to the extinction of many groups of bacteria capable of anoxygenic photosynthesis, triggering the diversification of modern groups."

To find the origin of anoxygenic photosynthesis, Dr Cardona traced the evolution of BchF, a protein that is key in the biosynthesis of bacteriochlorophyll a, the main pigment employed in anoxygenic photosynthesis. The special characteristic of this protein is that it is exclusively found in anoxygenic photosynthetic bacteria and without it bacteriochlorophyll a cannot be made.

By comparing sequences of proteins and reconstructing an evolutionary tree for BchF, he discovered that it originated before most described groups of bacteria alive today.

Research paper: "Origin of Bacteriochlorophyll a and the Early Diversification of Photosynthesis"

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
Imperial College London
Explore The Early Earth at TerraDaily.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
EARLY EARTH
Microbial Mats Offer Clues To Life on Early Earth
Moffett Field CA (SPX) Mar 16, 2016
Ancient clusters of rock that preserve some of the oldest microbes on Earth occasionally possess mysterious branch-like formations. Now, scientists think they know what might have caused this enigmatic branching - changes in microbial activity in the shallow lakes and seas where life first evolved. These findings, published in the July issue of the journal Geobiology, could help researcher ... read more


EARLY EARTH
Permanent Lunar Colony Possible in 10 Years

China to use data relay satellite to explore dark side of moon

NASA May Return to Moon, But Only After Cutting Off ISS

Lunar love: When science meets artistry

EARLY EARTH
ExoMars probe imaged en route to Mars

How the ExoMars mission could sniff out life on Mars

ExoMars on its way to solve the Red Planet's mysteries

Europe's New Mars Mission Bringing NASA Radios Along

EARLY EARTH
Space travel rules needed within 5 years: UN

Jacobs Joins Coalition for Deep Space Exploration

Space Race Competition helps turn NASA Tech into new products

Broomstick flying or red-light ping-pong? Gadgets at German fair

EARLY EARTH
China to establish first commercial rocket launch company

China's ambition after space station

Sky is the limit for China's national strategy

Aim Higher: China Plans to Send Rover to Mars in 2020

EARLY EARTH
Grandpa astronaut to break Scott Kelly's space record

Three new members join crew of International Space Station

Three new crew, including US grandpa, join space station

Space station astronauts ham it up to inspire student scientists

EARLY EARTH
ILS and INMARSAT Agree To Future Proton Launch

Soyuz 2-1B Carrier Rocket Launched From Baikonur

Launch of Dragon Spacecraft to ISS Postponed Until April

ISRO launches PSLV C32, India's sixth navigation satellite

EARLY EARTH
VLA observes earliest stages of planet formation

NASA's K2 mission: Kepler second chance to shine

Star eruptions create and scatter elements with Earth-like composition

Astronomers discover two new 'hot Jupiter' exoplanets

EARLY EARTH
Outsourcing crystal growth...to space

International research team achieves controlled movement of skyrmions

Light helps the transistor laser switch faster

UA's Space Expertise Seen as Key for US Security




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News








The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement