Small hills and “fingers” like those on carpets are caused by gases like methane and hydrogen sulfide rising below. A study published on Monday proposes and tests the theory that long, continuous daylight began to produce strange bacteria that used to produce so much oxygen that most of life as we know it is possible. (Phil Hartmere, Noah Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary)
Lake Huron, Michigan (AP) – Scientists have a new idea of how Earth gets oxygen because the planet is slowing down and the days are getting longer.
A study published on Monday proposes and tests the theory that long, continuous daylight began to produce strange bacteria that used to produce so much oxygen that most of life as we know it is possible.
They extracted sticky purple bacteria from a deep sink in Lake Huron and disturbed the amount of light I received in laboratory experiments. The more constant light that stinky microbes receive, the more oxygen they produce.
One of the biggest mysteries in science is how the Earth went from a planet with minimal oxygen to the breathable air we have today. Scientists have long thought they were called microbes cyanobacteriaThey were involved, but they couldn’t understand why the Great Oxygen Event had started.
Researchers in Monday’s study natural earth sciences He hypothesizes that slowing the Earth’s rotation, which gradually lengthens the current six to 24 hour days, has been key to helping cyanobacteria make the planet more breathable.
About 2.4 billion years ago, there was so little oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere that it could barely be measured, so no animal or plant life as we know it could survive. Instead, many microbes inhaled carbon dioxide and, in the case of cyanobacteria, produced oxygen in the first form of photosynthesis.
Lead author of the study, Judith Klatt, a biogeochemist at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, said. The oxygen explosion allowed plants and animals to evolve, she said, while other plants now joined in the feast of oxygen production.
But why do bacteria get insatiable oxygen? That’s where the University of Michigan oceanographer Brian Arbeck comes in. He studies tidal forces on Earth and how they slowed the rotation of the Earth. Arbic listened to a colleague’s talk on cyanobacteria and noted that the oxygen event coincided with the increase in the Earth day calendar. The planet’s rotation slows down due to the complex physics of Tidal friction and interaction with the Moon.
Michigan researchers and German researchers put their theory to the test with bacteria similar to what would have been 2.4 billion years ago. They used purple and white mats of cyanobacteria that live in the eerie world of the sinkhole, about 27 meters deep in Lake Huron.
“We basically imagine that the world looked like the Central Island sinkhole for most of its history,” Klatt said.
The divers lifted gelatinous mats filled with bacteria that stank of rotten eggs. Klatt and his colleagues exposed them to different amounts of light for up to 26 consecutive hours. They found that more continuous light caused microbes to produce more oxygen.
The study’s authors and outside scientists said this was only a possible but plausible explanation for the increase in oxygen on Earth.
What makes the idea so impressive is that it doesn’t require major biological changes in bacteria or the world’s oceans, said Tim Lyons, professor of biochemistry at the University of California, Riverside, who does was not part of the research team.
The Associated Press Department of Health and Science is supported by the Science Education Division of Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.
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