Reassessing the first appearance of eukaryotes and cyanobacteria

  title={Reassessing the first appearance of eukaryotes and cyanobacteria},
  author={Birger Rasmussen and Ian R. Fletcher and Jochen J. Brocks and Matthew R Kilburn},
The evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis had a profound impact on the Earth’s surface chemistry, leading to a sharp rise in atmospheric oxygen between 2.45 and 2.32 billion years (Gyr) ago and the onset of extreme ice ages. The oldest widely accepted evidence for oxygenic photosynthesis has come from hydrocarbons extracted from ∼2.7-Gyr-old shales in the Pilbara Craton, Australia, which contain traces of biomarkers (molecular fossils) indicative of eukaryotes and suggestive of oxygen-producing… 

Cyanobacteria and the Great Oxidation Event: evidence from genes and fossils

Relaxed clock analyses provide firm support for an origin of cyanobacteria in the Archean and a transition to multicellularity before the GOE, and character state reconstructions based on maximum likelihood and Bayesian phylogenetic inference confirm previous findings.

The role of biology in planetary evolution: cyanobacterial primary production in low‐oxygen Proterozoic oceans

The hypothesis that anoxygenic photosynthesis, including the activity of metabolically versatile cyanobacteria played an important role in delaying the oxygenation of Earth's surface ocean during the Proterozoic Eon is supported.

Manganese-oxidizing photosynthesis before the rise of cyanobacteria

The results show that the oxidative branch of the Mn cycle predates the rise of oxygen, and provide strong support for the hypothesis that the water-oxidizing complex of photosystem II evolved from a former transitional photosystem capable of single-electron oxidation reactions of Mn.

Cyanobacteria: Habitats and Species

During their long evolutionary history, cyanobacteria developed the ability of their cells to undergo nearly absolute dehydration during air-drying without being killed, a phenomenon known as anhydrobiosis, which enabled them to colonize more and more of the available terrestrial habitats.

Importance of Prokaryotes in the Functioning and Evolution of the Present and Past Geosphere and Biosphere

On a volcanic and anaerobic planet characterized by abundant hydrothermal activity, physicochemical gradients and disequilibria at the local scale would have been fundamental for the emergence of

Oxygenation of the Mesoproterozoic ocean and the evolution of complex eukaryotes

The Mesoproterozoic era (1,600–1,000 million years ago (Ma)) has long been considered a period of relative environmental stasis, with persistently low levels of atmospheric oxygen. There remains much

Reappraisal of hydrocarbon biomarkers in Archean rocks

It is reported that hopane and sterane concentrations measured in new ultraclean Archean drill cores from Australia are comparable to blank concentrations, yet their concentrations in the exteriors of conventionally collected cores of stratigraphic equivalence exceed blank concentrations by more than an order of magnitude due to surficial contamination; previous hydrocarbon biomarker reports no longer provide valid evidence for the advent of oxygenic photosynthesis and eukaryotes by ∼2.7 billion years ago.

The cycling and redox state of nitrogen in the Archaean ocean

Organisms that produce oxygen through photosynthesis existed during the late Archaean eon, about 2,500 million years ago, but controversial evidence suggests that they may have evolved several

Cyanobacterial evolution during the Precambrian

A better understanding of early cyanobacteria evolution will not only allow for a more specific calibration of cyanobacterial and eubacterial phylogenies, but also provide new dates for the tree of life.

The molybdenum isotope composition of modern and ancient stromatolites

  • M. Thoby
  • Environmental Science, Geography
  • 2015
The primitive Earth was characterized by an oxygen-poor ocean–atmosphere system, and experienced a significant increase in oxygen concentrations during the Great Oxidation Event (GOE) ca 2.45 Ga.



2-Methylhopanoids as biomarkers for cyanobacterial oxygenic photosynthesis

It is shown that 2-methylbacteriohopanepolyols occur in a high proportion of cultured cyanob bacteria and cyanobacterial mats and are abundant in organic-rich sediments as old as 2,500 Myr, which may help constrain the age of the oldest cyanobacteria and the advent of oxygenic photosynthesis.

Archean molecular fossils and the early rise of eukaryotes.

The presence of steranes, particularly cholestane and its 28- to 30-carbon analogs, provides persuasive evidence for the existence of eukaryotes 500 million to 1 billion years before the extant fossil record indicates that the lineage arose.

The Paleoproterozoic snowball Earth: a climate disaster triggered by the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis.

It is argued that oxygenic cyanobacteria evolved and radiated shortly before the Makganyene snowball, and could have destroyed a methane greenhouse and triggered a snowball event on time-scales as short as 1 million years.

Increased subaerial volcanism and the rise of atmospheric oxygen 2.5 billion years ago

Observations are consistent with the corollary that subaerial volcanism only became widespread after a major tectonic episode of continental stabilization at the beginning of the Proterozoic, and propose that the rise of atmospheric oxygen occurred because the predominant sink for oxygen in the Archaean era—enhanced submarine volcanism—was abruptly and permanently diminished.

Dating the rise of atmospheric oxygen

It is found that syngenetic pyrite is present in organic-rich shales of the 2.32-Gyr-old Rooihoogte and Timeball Hill formations, South Africa, indicating that atmospheric oxygen was present at significant levels during the deposition of these units.

Biomarkers from Huronian oil-bearing fluid inclusions: An uncontaminated record of life before the Great Oxidation Event

We report detailed molecular geochemistry of oil-bearing fluid inclusions from a ca. 2.45 Ga fluvial metaconglomerate of the Matinenda Formation at Elliot Lake, Canada. The oil, most likely derived

Microbial fixation of methane carbon at 2.7 Ga: Was an anaerobic mechanism possible?

Calculations based on recent findings at two modern sites show that anaerobic processes could account for the Archaean signal.

Eukaryotic organisms in Proterozoic oceans

Focus on character evolution permits inferences about the innovations in cell biology and development that underpin the taxonomic and morphological diversification of eukaryotic organisms.