The Microbial Engines That Drive Earth's Biogeochemical Cycles

  title={The Microbial Engines That Drive Earth's Biogeochemical Cycles},
  author={Paul G. Falkowski and Tom M. Fenchel and Edward F. Delong},
  pages={1034 - 1039}
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 groups. These machines evolved exclusively in microbes early in our planet's history yet, despite their antiquity, are highly conserved. Hence, although there is enormous genetic diversity in nature, there remains a relatively stable set of core genes coding for the major redox reactions essential… 
The Role of Microbial Electron Transfer in the Coevolution of the Biosphere and Geosphere.
The discovery and consequences of redox reactions in microbes are reviewed with a specific focus on the coevolution of life and geochemical phenomena.
Microorganisms and their roles in fundamental biogeochemical cycles.
  • E. Madsen
  • Biology, Environmental Science
    Current opinion in biotechnology
  • 2011
Electrons, life and the evolution of Earth's oxygen cycle
The early coevolution of the C, N and O cycles, and the resulting non-equilibrium gaseous by-products can be used as a guide to search for the presence of life on terrestrial planets outside of the authors' Solar System.
Thousands of microbial genomes shed light on interconnected biogeochemical processes in an aquifer system
Terabase-scale cultivation-independent metagenomics is applied to aquifer sediments and groundwater and 2,540 draft-quality, near-complete and complete strain-resolved genomes are reconstructed, finding that few organisms within the community can conduct multiple sequential redox transformations.
Microbial proteins and oceanic nutrient cycles
  • C. Moore
  • Environmental Science
  • 2014
This issue's studies show how nutrient availability drives large-scale patterns in the abundances of nutrient-related proteins and suggest a potential biochemical linkage between two key nutrient cycles.
The curious consistency of carbon biosignatures over billions of years of Earth-life coevolution
Novel, laboratory-based approaches are proposed to reconstructing ancestral states of carbon metabolisms and associated enzymes that can constrain isotopic biosignature production in ancient biological systems and highlight the need for greater quantitative understanding of carbon isotope fractionation behavior in extant metabolic pathways.
Archaea in biogeochemical cycles.
Sulfur-dependent archaea are confined mostly to hot environments, but metal leaching by acidophiles and reduction of sulfate by anaerobic, nonthermophilic methane oxidizers have a potential impact on the environment.
Exposing the Dark Microbial Biosphere
It is proposed that cells scavenging anabolic products derived from detrital biomass and intermediate fermentation products are equally important in these systems, suggesting that life at the thermodynamic limit involves a much more complex biological system than previously shown, that goes beyond traditionally described electron- and intermediate metabolite-transfer dependencies.
Oceanographic and biogeochemical insights from diatom genomes.
It is shown how genome-enabled approaches are being leveraged to explore major phenomena of oceanographic and biogeochemical relevance, such as nutrient assimilation and life histories in diatoms.


Electrons, life and the evolution of Earth's oxygen cycle
The early coevolution of the C, N and O cycles, and the resulting non-equilibrium gaseous by-products can be used as a guide to search for the presence of life on terrestrial planets outside of the authors' Solar System.
The evolution of the sulfur cycle
There are 2 principal avenues of inquiry relevant to reconstructing the history of the sulfur cycle. One avenue relies on the comparison of molecular sequences derived from biologically essential
The Evolution of Biological Carbon and Nitrogen Cycling—a Genomic Perspective
Carbon and nitrogen are essential to all living organisms, owing to their abundance and remarkable characteristics when participating in chemical bonds. Their essentiality dates back to the very
Genome evolution in cyanobacteria: The stable core and the variable shell
The overall phylogenetic incongruence among 682 orthologous protein families from 13 genomes of cyanobacteria is demonstrated, but using principal coordinates analysis, a core set of 323 genes with similar evolutionary trajectories is discovered, suggesting that the ancestral cyanobacterium did not fix nitrogen and probably was a thermophilic organism.
Microbial diversity in the deep sea and the underexplored “rare biosphere”
It is shown that bacterial communities of deep water masses of the North Atlantic and diffuse flow hydrothermal vents are one to two orders of magnitude more complex than previously reported for any microbial environment.
Evolution of the first metabolic cycles.
  • G. Wächtershäuser
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1990
It is a consequence of this hypothesis that the postulated cycle cannot exist as a single isolated cycle but must be a member of a network of concatenated homologous cycles, from which all anabolic pathways appear to have sprung.
Evolution of primary producers in the sea
Isolation of an autotrophic ammonia-oxidizing marine archaeon
The isolation of a marine crenarchaeote that grows chemolithoautotrophically by aerobically oxidizing ammonia to nitrite—the first observation of nitrification in the Archaea is reported, suggesting that nitrifying marine Cren archaeota may be important to global carbon and nitrogen cycles.
Methane-Consuming Archaea Revealed by Directly Coupled Isotopic and Phylogenetic Analysis
These results demonstrate the feasibility of simultaneous determination of the identity and the metabolic activity of naturally occurring microorganisms and indicate assimilation of isotopically light methane into specific archaeal cells.
The co-evolution of the nitrogen, carbon and oxygen cycles in the Proterozoic ocean
Geochemical evidence suggests that there was a delay of several hundred million years between the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis and the accumulation of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere. The deep