Evolutionary ecology during the rise of dioxygen in the Earth's atmosphere.

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 2008 Aug;363(1504):2651-64

Department of Geophysics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

Pre-photosynthetic niches were meagre with a productivity of much less than 10(-4) of modern photosynthesis. Serpentinization, arc volcanism and ridge-axis volcanism reliably provided H(2). Methanogens and acetogens reacted CO(2) with H(2) to obtain energy and make organic matter. These skills pre-adapted a bacterium for anoxygenic photosynthesis, probably starting with H(2) in lieu of an oxygen 'acceptor'. Use of ferrous iron and sulphide followed as abundant oxygen acceptors, allowing productivity to approach modern levels. The 'photobacterium' proliferated rooting much of the bacterial tree. Land photosynthetic microbes faced a dearth of oxygen acceptors and nutrients. A consortium of photosynthetic and soil bacteria aided weathering and access to ferrous iron. Biologically enhanced weathering led to the formation of shales and, ultimately, to granitic rocks. Already oxidized iron-poor sedimentary rocks and low-iron granites provided scant oxygen acceptors, as did freshwater in their drainages. Cyanobacteria evolved dioxygen production that relieved them of these vicissitudes. They did not immediately dominate the planet. Eventually, anoxygenic and oxygenic photosynthesis oxidized much of the Earth's crust and supplied sulphate to the ocean. Anoxygenic photosynthesis remained important until there was enough O(2) in downwelling seawater to quantitatively oxidize massive sulphides at mid-ocean ridge axes.

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Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2008.0018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2606762PMC
August 2008

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