Phosphorus identified as the missing link in evolution of animals
By examining ancient-ocean sediments, Kurt Konhauser, student Stefan Lalonde and other colleagues discovered that as the last glacier to encircle Earth receded, leaving behind glacial debris containing phosphorus that washed into the oceans.
Phosphorus is an essential nutrient that promoted the growth of cyanobacteria, or blue-green-algae, and its metabolic byproduct is oxygen. The new, higher oxygen levels in the ocean reached a threshold favourable for animals to evolve.
Konhauser's past research into ancient phosphorus levels in a unique suite of rocks called banded iron formations led him and his colleagues at the University of California Riverside to their current findings.
In 2007, Konhauser and his U of A team published research in the magazine Science that was contrary to the then-accepted theory that phosphorus was scarce throughout much of Earth's history, it was in fact plentiful.
“Now in 2010 we showed that phosphorus levels actually peaked between 750 and 635 million years ago at the very same time that oxygen levels increased, allowing complex life forms to emerge,” says Lalonde. “That establishes our link between phosphorus and the evolution of animals.”
Konhauser and Lalonde were co-authors on the paper published Oct. 27 in Nature.
To arrange an interview with Konhauser please contact Brian Murphy
All news from this category: Life Sciences and Chemistry
Articles and reports from the Life Sciences and chemistry area deal with applied and basic research into modern biology, chemistry and human medicine.
Valuable information can be found on a range of life sciences fields including bacteriology, biochemistry, bionics, bioinformatics, biophysics, biotechnology, genetics, geobotany, human biology, marine biology, microbiology, molecular biology, cellular biology, zoology, bioinorganic chemistry, microchemistry and environmental chemistry.
New EU project on effects of micro- and nanoplastics in agriculture
The University of Bayreuth is a partner in the new European “PAPILLONS” consortium for micro- and nanoplastics research in agriculture. 20 universities and research institutions from 12 countries will jointly…