Life and the Evolution of Earth's Atmosphere

  title={Life and the Evolution of Earth's Atmosphere},
  author={James F. Kasting and Janet L. Siefert},
  pages={1066 - 1068}
Harvesting light to produce energy and oxygen (photosynthesis) is the signature of all land plants. This ability was co-opted from a precocious and ancient form of life known as cyanobacteria. Today these bacteria, as well as microscopic algae, supply oxygen to the atmosphere and churn out fixed nitrogen in Earth's vast oceans. Microorganisms may also have played a major role in atmosphere evolution before the rise of oxygen. Under the more dim light of a young sun cooler than today's, certain… 

An obligately photosynthetic bacterial anaerobe from a deep-sea hydrothermal vent.

This work describes the isolation and cultivation of a previously unknown green sulfur bacterial species from a deep-sea hydrothermal vent, where the only source of light is geothermal radiation that includes wavelengths absorbed by photosynthetic pigments of this organism.

The Origin and Evolution of Photosynthetic Oxygen Production

This chapter reviews some of the evidence and the postulated proposals for how oxygenic photosynthesis first emerged as a distinct form of photoautotrophic metabolism using water as an electron donor and the emerging role of bicarbonate in assembly of the inorganic core and as an hypothesized evolutionary cofactor.

Cyanobacteria and Their Role Under Elevated CO2 Conditions

  • Savita Singh
  • Environmental Science
    Climate Change and Agricultural Ecosystems
  • 2019

Evolution of photosynthesis and biospheric oxygenation contingent upon nitrogen fixation?

  • J. Grula
  • Environmental Science, Biology
    International Journal of Astrobiology
  • 2005
It is hypothesized that biospheric oxygenation would not have occurred if the emergence of cyanobacteria had not been preceded by the evolution of nitrogen fixation, and if these organisms had not also acquired the ability to fix nitrogen at the beginning of or very early in their history.

Oxidative Stress in Tropical Marine Ecosystems

T he accumulation of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere has had profound effects on the geochemistry, physiology, and evolution of life on the planet. However, most organisms must also contend with the

The Evolution of Chlorophylls and Photosynthesis

An ancestral reaction center of Photosystem I and II (RCI/II) type of photosynthesis arose in which a membrane-spanning helix (MSH) protein bound two molecules of chlorophyll/bacteriochlorophyll in a special pair and had a Chl/quinone primary acceptor.

The rise of oxygen and the hydrogen hourglass

The Global Oxygen Cycle




Greenhouse warming by CH4 in the atmosphere of early Earth.

It is found that a CH4 mixing ratio of 10(-4) (100 ppmv) or more in Earth's early atmosphere would provide agreement with the paleosol data from 2.3-2.4 Ga, which could have triggered the Earth's first widespread glaciation.

Earth's early atmosphere

  • J. Kasting
  • Environmental Science, Physics
  • 1993
A better understanding of past atmospheric evolution is important to understanding the evolution of life and to predicting whether Earth-like planets might exist elsewhere in the galaxy.

Biogenic Methane, Hydrogen Escape, and the Irreversible Oxidation of Early Earth

Expected irreversible oxidation (∼1012 to 1013 moles oxygen per year) may help explain how Earth's surface environment became irreversibly oxidized.

The Archean sulfur cycle and the early history of atmospheric oxygen.

Sedimentary sulfur isotope record suggests low concentrations of seawater sulfate and atmospheric oxygen in the early Archean and early Proterozoic and shows how sulfate reduction rate influences the preservation of biological fractionations in sediments.

Atmospheric influence of Earth's earliest sulfur cycle

Mass-independent isotopic signatures in Precambrian rocks indicate that a change occurred in the sulfur cycle between 2090 and 2450 million years ago, implying that atmospheric oxygen partial pressures were low and that the roles of oxidative weathering and of microbial oxidation and reduction of sulfur were minimal.

Hydrogen Consumption by Methanogens on the Early Earth

H2-consuming autotrophs are likely to have had a profound effect on the chemistry of the early atmosphere and to have been a dominant sink for H2 on the early Earth after life began rather than escape from the Earth's atmosphere to space.

The evolution of atmospheric ozone

A one-dimensional coupled chemistry and flow model of the earth's atmosphere is used to study the relationship between ozone content and oxygen level. The effects of the biogenic trace gases methane

Methanogenesis : Ecology, Physiology, Biochemistry and Genetics

This paper presents a meta-anatomy of methanogens, a probabilistic study of the methanogenesis of methane and carbon dioxide from CO2 and H2 and its role in the regulation of greenhouse gases.

A Coupled Ecosystem-Climate Model for Predicting the Methane Concentration in the Archean Atmosphere

A simple coupled ecosystem-climate model is described that can predict levels of atmospheric CH4, CO2, and H2 during the Late Archean, and finds that methanogenic bacteria should have converted most of the available atmospheric H2 intoCH4, and that CH4 may have been equal in importance to CO2 as a greenhouse gas.

The relative influences of nitrogen and phosphorus on oceanic primary production

A simple model has the potential to resolve the long-running debate amongst oceanographers over whether nitrogen or phosphorus exerts overall control on oceanic primary production. A representation