by H. Devlin, January 15, 2020 in TheGuardian
For the first 2 billion years, life on Earth comprised two microbial kingdoms – bacteria and archaea. They featured an innumerable and diverse variety of species, but, ultimately, life on Earth was not that exciting judged by today’s standards.
Then, the theory goes, a rogue archaeon gobbled up a bacterium to create an entirely new type of cell that would go on to form the basis of all complex life on Earth, from plants to humans.
Now, for the first time, scientists have succeeded in culturing an elusive species of archaea believed to be similar to the ancestor that gave rise to the first sophisticated cells, known as eukaryotes. The work has been described as a “monumental” advance that sheds new light on this evolutionary milestone.
Nick Lane, professor of evolutionary biochemistry at UCL, described the work as “magnificent”, while a commentary by two other experts in the field said it marked a “huge breakthrough for microbiology”.
Like bacteria, archaea continue to thrive on Earth today. But despite the pivotal role they are thought to have played in the emergence of complex life there has been relatively little research on them. Many species are found in inhospitable environments and are incredibly difficult to grow in the lab.
The Japanese team behind the latest advance has dedicated 12 years to the effort, overcoming a series of setbacks along the way.
The archaeon which was cultured and characterised from deep marine sediment. Photograph: Nature
by U. of California – Santa Barbara, January 2, 2019 in ScienceDaily
“We’ve known for quite a long time that the carbon stored on minerals is the carbon that sticks around for a long time,” said Chadwick, co-author of the paper, “Climate-driven thresholds in reactive mineral retention of soil carbon at the global scale,” published in the journal Nature Climate Change. How much carbon the soil can take and how much it can keep, he said, are dependent on factors including temperature and moisture.
“When plants photosynthesize, they draw carbon out of the atmosphere, then they die and their organic matter is incorporated in the soil,” Chadwick explained. “Bacteria decompose that organic matter, releasing carbon that can either go right back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide or it can get held on the surface of soil minerals.”
by Paul Berth, 22 novembre 2018, in ScienceClimatEnergie
Les microbulles de gaz emprisonnées dans les carottes de glace sont fréquemment utilisées pour estimer le taux de CO2 de l’atmosphère du passé. Il s’agit de méthodes de mesure indirectes. Par exemple la carotte de glace EPICA Dome C en Antarctique nous suggère que le CO2 de l’atmosphère a varié entre 180 et 300 ppmv pendant les derniers 650 000 ans (Brook 2005). Cependant, le taux de CO2 observé dans ces carottes de glace représente-il vraiment l’atmosphère du passé? Nous allons montrer ici qu’un paramètre est souvent négligé par les glaciologues, et que ce paramètre pourrait avoir un effet considérable sur le résultat des analyses : il s’agit de la présence de micro-organismes dans la glace et les microbulles.