Hydrothermal vents and the origin of life

  title={Hydrothermal vents and the origin of life},
  author={William F. Martin and John A. Baross and Deborah S. Kelley and Michael J. Russell},
  journal={Nature Reviews Microbiology},
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 in hydrothermal systems and the core energy metabolic reactions of some modern prokaryotic autotrophs. The biochemistry of these autotrophs might, in turn, harbour clues about the kinds of reactions that initiated the chemistry of life. Hydrothermal vents thus unite microbiology and geology to… 
Interaction between Microbes, Minerals, and Fluids in Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Systems
The discovery of deep-sea hydrothermal vents in the late 1970s widened the limits of life and habitability. The mixing of oxidizing seawater and reduction of hydrothermal fluids create a chemical
Mapping metabolism onto the prebiotic organic chemistry of hydrothermal vents
  • R. Braakman
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 2013
A unique experimental instrument is developed to systematically explore simulated hydrothermal vent chemistry, focusing on the chemistry of pyruvate, which has both a central role in modern metabolism and was plausibly formed prebiotically at hydroThermal vents.
Assessing the role of submarine volcanism in driving biogeochemical cycles on the early Earth
  • Geology
  • 2020
Background: Hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor have long been postulated as cradles of life on Earth, because they offer numerous geochemical niches and mineral catalysts to drive prebiotic
Microbial Sulfur Isotope Fractionation in the Chicxulub Hydrothermal System
Target lithologies and post-impact hydrothermal mineral assemblages in a new 1.3 km deep core from the peak ring of the Chicxulub impact crater indicate sulfate reduction was a potential energy
Bacterial Communities from Deep Hydrothermal Systems: The Southern Gulf of California as an Example of Primeval Environments
Deep hydrothermal systems result from the magmatic and tectonic activity of the ocean floor. This deep extreme biosphere represents a unique oasis of life driven by sulfur-based chemosynthesis
The Origin of Life in Alkaline Hydrothermal Vents.
The perplexing differences in carbon and energy metabolism in methanogenic archaea and acetogenic bacteria are analyzed to propose a possible ancestral mechanism of CO2 reduction in alkaline hydrothermal vents and it is shown that the evolution of active ion pumping could have driven the deep divergence of bacteria and archaea.
Abiotic Hydrocarbons Discharge from A Felsic Rock-Hosted Hydrothermal System
Abiogenic hydrocarbons are fundamentally important for understanding the deep microbial communities and the origin of life. The generation of abiogenic hydrocarbons was proposed to be limited to


A Serpentinite-Hosted Ecosystem: The Lost City Hydrothermal Field
The serpentinite-hosted Lost City hydrothermal field is a remarkable submarine ecosystem in which geological, chemical, and biological processes are intimately interlinked. Reactions between seawater
Biogeochemical Evidence that Thermophilic Archaea Mediate the Anaerobic Oxidation of Methane
ABSTRACT Distributions and isotopic analyses of lipids from sediment cores at a hydrothermally active site in the Guaymas Basin with a steep sedimentary temperature gradient revealed the presence of
Low archaeal diversity linked to subseafloor geochemical processes at the Lost City Hydrothermal Field, Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
First analyses of microbial communities inhabiting carbonate chimneys awash in warm, high pH fluids at the LCHF and the predominance of a single group of methane-metabolizing Archaea are reported, expanding the range of known geological settings that support biological activity to include submarine hydrothermal systems that are not dependent upon magmatic heat sources.
Submarine hydrothermal vents and associated gradient environments as sites for the origin and evolution of life
Submarine hydrothermal vents are the only comtemporary geological environment which may be called truly primeval; they continue to be a major source of gases and dissolved elements to the modern
Abiogenic Hydrocarbon Production at Lost City Hydrothermal Field
Concentration, and stable and radiocarbon isotope, data from hydrocarbons dissolved in hydrogen-rich fluids venting at the ultramafic-hosted Lost City Hydrothermal Field show a distinct “inverse” trend in the stable carbon and hydrogen isotopic composition of C1 to C4 hydrocars, compatible with FTT genesis.
Filamentous microfossils in a 3,235-million-year-old volcanogenic massive sulphide deposit
The discovery of pyritic filaments, the probable fossil remains of thread-like microorganisms, in a 3,235-million-year-old deep-sea volcanogenic massive sulphide deposit from the Pilbara Craton of Australia is reported, representing the first fossil evidence for microbial life in a Precambrian submarine thermal spring system.
Volcanoes, Fluids, and Life at Mid-Ocean Ridge Spreading Centers
▪ Abstract The recent recognition of a potentially vast, unexplored hot microbial biosphere associated with active volcanism along the global mid-ocean ridge network has fundamentally shifted
On the origin of biochemistry at an alkaline hydrothermal vent
  • W. Martin, M. Russell
  • Biology, Chemistry
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2006
Thermodynamic considerations related to formyl pterin synthesis suggest that the ability to harness a naturally pre-existing proton gradient at the vent–ocean interface via an ATPase is older than the able to generate a protongradient with chemistry that is specified by genes.