From Light to Life

  title={From Light to Life},
  author={Paul G. Falkowski},
  journal={Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres},
  • P. Falkowski
  • Published 24 June 2015
  • Chemistry
  • Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres
The biogeochemical cycles of H, C, N, O and S are coupled via biologically catalyzed electron transfer (redox) reactions far from thermodynamic equilibrium. In this paper I examine the evolution of the structural motifs responsible for redox reactions (the biological “transistors”) across the tree of life, and the photogeochemical reactions on minerals that ultimately came to be the driving force for these biological reactions. 

A survey of photogeochemistry

A compilation of known reactions shows the extent of light-driven interactions between naturally occurring components of land, air, and water, and provides the backdrop for an outline of the mechanisms of these phenomena.

Metal availability and the expanding network of microbial metabolisms in the Archaean eon

A synthesis of molecular and geochemical data shows that these metabolic pathways evolved alongside changing marine availability of trace metals during the Precambrian.

The curious case of peptide-coordinated iron-sulfur clusters: prebiotic and biomimetic insights.

The efforts spent in the last 50 years in the context of peptide-coordinated iron-sulfur clusters are discussed, with a particular emphasis on insightful contributions from recent prebiotic chemistry research.

Redox traits characterize the organization of global microbial communities

It is shown that genes related to reduction-oxidation (redox) processes separate microbial communities into their corresponding biomes, and profiles of oxidoreductase genes support the highest biome differentiation compared with profiles of other categories of enzymes, general protein-coding genes, transporter genes, and taxonomic gene markers.

Short-term elevated CO2 exposure stimulated photochemical performance of a coastal marine diatom.

Properties of the Permeability Transition of Pea Stem Mitochondria

It is found that cyclophilin D, the mitochondrial receptor for cyclosporin A, is present in pea stem mitochondria and this results indicate that the plant PT has unique features and suggest that, as in Drosophila, it may provide peastem mitochondria with a Ca2+ release channel.



Anoxic photochemical oxidation of siderite generates molecular hydrogen and iron oxides

It is proposed that the photochemistry of Earth-abundant minerals with wide band gaps would have potentially played a critical role in shaping the biogeochemical evolution of early Earth.

The Microbial Engines That Drive Earth's Biogeochemical Cycles

Virtually all nonequilibrium electron transfers on Earth are driven by a set of nanobiological machines composed largely of multimeric protein complexes associated with a small number of prosthetic

Hydrothermal vents and the origin of life

Submarine hydrothermal vents are geochemically reactive habitats that harbour rich microbial communities. There are striking parallels between the chemistry of the H2–CO2 redox couple that is present

Discovering the electronic circuit diagram of life: structural relationships among transition metal binding sites in oxidoreductases

The results of this ‘composome’ analysis suggest an early split from a basal set of a small group of proteins dominated by loop structures into two families of oxidoreductases, one dominated by α-helices and the second by β-sheets.

Evolutionary history of redox metal-binding domains across the tree of life

The results suggest that two apparently distinct and ubiquitous iron-containing families of oxidoreductases containing Fe2S2 and hemes arose from a single common ancestor that underwent duplication and divergence.

How did LUCA make a living? Chemiosmosis in the origin of life.

It is argued that the first donor was hydrogen and the first acceptor CO2, and that the earliest cells might have harnessed a geochemically created proton-motive force and then learned to make their own, a transition that was necessary for their escape from the vents.

Biogeochemistry: An Analysis of Global Change

Biogeochemistry-winner of a 2014 Textbook Excellence Award (Texty) from the Text and Academic Authors Association-considers how the basic chemical conditions of the Earth, from atmosphere to soil to

TrAnsFuSE refines the search for protein function: oxidoreductases.

This work validated annotations of 104 InterPro domains indicated as using "transition metals in redox reactions" and used the experimentally identified catalytic residues in these domains to validate sequence alignment-based protein function annotations, creating an approach that enhances the search for redox domains using catalytic site annotations.

Energetic Selection of Topology in Ferredoxins

Conformational enumeration of a model CGGCGGC heptapeptide bound to a cubane iron-sulfur cluster indicates both left-handed and right-handed folds could exist and have comparable stabilities, but only the natural ferredoxin topology provides a significant network of backbone-to-cluster hydrogen bonds that would stabilize the metal-peptide complex.

Function‐based assessment of structural similarity measurements using metal co‐factor orientation

The hypothesis underlying the approach is that metal coordination sites constrain structural evolution, thus revealing functional relationships between distantly related proteins.