New Microbe Discovery At Yellowstone Could Explain Evolution of Life on The Earth

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A new lineage of microbes is found by the scientists in the famously hot and acidic spring waters of Yellowstone National Park in the US. This discovery helps us to teach more about the origin of life on the earth.

From the archaea domain of life, these single-cell organisms seem to grow vigorously in the thermal springs of Yellowstone which has iron oxide as the chief material. As the surface of the Mars is also made of similar materials, the researchers have named the lineage Marsarchaeota.

The habitat inside the thermal springs of Yellowstone is thought to match the same environment on the early Earth, for this reason, these Marsarchaeota microbes can be helpful and can show us how organisms sparked into life, and what role iron oxide may have played.

The researchers said, “The discovery of archaeal lineages is critical to our understanding of the universal tree of life and evolutionary history of Earth” and further added, “The broad distribution of Marsarchaeota in geothermal, microaerobic iron oxide mats suggests that similar habitat types probably played an important role in the evolution of archaea.”

Different techniques such as microscopic analysis and genome sequencing are used to study the microbial mats in the Yellowstone park springs which are as acidic as grapefruit juice. Two different groups of Marsarchaeota were identified, the one that lives in temperatures above 50 degrees Celsius and the other lives in temperatures between 6080 degrees Celsius.

The microbial mats have been turned red by the iron oxide. Oxygen is captured from the atmosphere and supplied to the Marsarchaoeta, though the microbes are very deep, they only require low levels of oxygen. We can get a better idea of the ancient organisms that first sprung up on the planet by adding these archaea to “the universal tree of life”.

These archaea may answer the broader question of how they evolved into multi-celled eukaryotes animals and plants. A close observation is required to figure out how this particular type of microbe can flourish in these conditions. Further down the line can give us the clue about how life is potentially surviving on Mars and also some of the fundamentals of biology at higher temperatures.

The research has been published as “Marsarchaeota are an aerobic archaeal lineage abundant in geothermal iron oxide microbial mats” in the journal, Nature Microbiology.