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Studies find microbes in Pacific Ocean surviving on arsenic

Oceans are a rich and biodiverse habitat on its own. We can find organisms and plants ranging from a few millimetres to a length of 12 meters which is the size of the largest whale which weights close 50 tonnes. The vastness and the richness of the oceans are a wonder to study and explore a curious mind.

Scientists for many decades have believed that arsenic is a poisonous chemical for almost all living beings but until recently researchers have found a microorganism that lives by breathing Arsenic and is found over a large area in the Pacific ocean. The study has been published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Scientists have believed that this species had used arsenic during the time of formation of Earth where the presence of oxygen was limited and microorganism had to survive on arsenic. In the face of global warming, there is a need to adapt which is slowly happening in the ocean ecosystem as organisms need to be able to adapt to lower levels of oxygen in the water.

Arsenic was known to be present in water for quite a long time but its use by microorganism for living was quite a new concept. These microorganisms were discovered off the coast of Mexico where there is a patch called anoxic where there is virtually no oxygen dissolved in water. Microorganisms which breath on sulphur and nitrogen were known for quite a long time but living on arsenic is still new to researchers.

Scientists have analyzed the DNA samples of these microorganisms and found two pathways which convert arsenic-based molecules to energy resource. It has opened gateways to explore the life where oxygen does not exist and also extraterrestrial life on other planets might take place. These arsenic-based microorganisms might account for around one percent of the total marine microbial community but there is scope to find and understand the complex chemical reactions which happen in oceans as a whole.

Scientists think that the best way to study these microorganisms is to artificially grow these samples in the lab and study their metabolism and how they respond to various levels of arsenic content in water.

Jaclyn Saunders, a researcher has commented that the coolest thing about these organisms is that they are expressing the genes in an environment that is very low on arsenic and that it opens up boundaries to finding other organisms that are respiring arsenic in poor arsenic conditions.

The amount of diversity one may find on the Earth may surprise anyone, there are a lot more opportunities and organisms that are waiting to be explored in the depth and the vastness of our Earth’s oceans.

DNA molecule depiction

Scientists create dynamic “living” object which has its own metabolism

Scientists at Cornell University have artificially synthesised a material which possesses three main traits of life namely metabolism, organisation and self-assembly. Such a task was possible as the researchers used the DNA so as to prepare machines which had the properties of living beings. The report has been published in the Science Robotics.

The technique which they used is named as DASH which stands for “DNA-based Assembly and Synthesis of Hierarchical” objects. The scientists prepared a DNA material which has the metabolism ability i.e the specific set of chemical processes which converts the food to the energy which is needed for sustaining life.

The three most important purposes of metabolism are generating energy from food for different cellular activities, converting food to the basic elements for proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates and removing several wastes such as nitrogenous wastes. Metabolic reactions are classified to two types, catabolic and anabolic.

However, scientists did not intend to create a living entity. They wanted to build a machine which has the functions of living beings. Professor Dan Luo, Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering mentioned that they are not preparing a different life but materials which are more lifelike than ever seen.

For any organism which is alive, there must be ways to coordinate the changes which take place continuously. Activities such as generation of new cells, removing the worn out ones, biodegradation are the key processes which are needed to maintain the form.

The most innovative aspect here is that the process of metabolism has been programmed and coded inside the DNA. It contains instructions for autonomous regeneration which then allows the object to grow on its own. Scientists have described metabolism in the paper as a method where the elements which make life are manufactured, synthesized, broken down and decomposed independently in a hierarchical way using biological processes.

With the help of the DASH method, the engineers manufactured a material which can independently emerge from its building blocks and arrange on its own. With the help of a 55 nucleotide base sequence, the molecules of DNA were multiplied several thousand times, and the DNA chains were created which were a few millimeters in size. After that, it was injected in a microfluidic device which provided energy in liquid flow and the building blocks for biosynthesis were made.

DNA prepared its new strands where the front end and the tail end were maintained in a suitable manner. Though the designs are primitive, this is a new possibility of making dynamic objects from biomolecules. Scientists are now working on ways so that the object can identify different stimuli and also seek for food when needed.

electricity eating bacteria

Electricity-eating microbes use electrons and fix carbon dioxide to grow

We have often seen our metal products catching rust and we usually apply some grease over it in order to prevent the rust over it. According to the study carried out by the researchers at the Washington University in St. Louis, it explains that there are certain bacteria’s which eat the electricity and transfer electrons to fix carbon dioxide to fuel its growth.

The research was lead by Prof. Arpita Bose, assistant professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, and Michael Guzman, a PhD candidate in her laboratory. The team showed how a naturally occurring strain of Rhodopseudomonas palustris takes up electrons from conductive substances like metal oxides or rust.

This is a continuation of the previous research carried by Bose, which states that R. palustris TIE-1 can consume electrons from rust proxies like poised electrodes, a process called extracellular electron uptake. R. palustris being phototrophic, it uses energy from light to carry out certain metabolic processes.

The new research explains the cellular sinks where this microbe dumps the electrons it eats from electricity. “It clearly shows for the first time how this activity—the ability for the organism to eat electricity—is connected to carbon dioxide fixation,” said Bose.

physiology of R palustris bacteria

Overview of the physiology of R. palustris.( Credit: Nature journal)

This special ability clearly shows the microbe’s natural ability for sustainable energy storage or other bioenergy applications which have caught the attention of the Department of Energy and Department of Defense.

Explaining the origins of the bacteria Bose says “R. palustris strains can be found in wild and exotic places like a rusty bridge in Woods Hole, Massachusetts where TIE-1 was isolated from. You can find these organisms everywhere. This suggests that extracellular electron uptake might be very common.

Co-researcher Guzzam adds “The main challenge is that it’s an anaerobe, so you need to grow it in an environment that doesn’t have oxygen in order for it to harvest light energy. But the flip side to that is that those challenges are met with a lot of versatility in this organism that a lot of other organisms don’t have.”

The researchers in their newspaper showed that the electrons from electricity enter into proteins in the membrane that are important for photosynthesis. Surprisingly, when they deleted the microbe’s ability to fix carbon dioxide, they observed a 90 percent reduction in its ability to consume electricity which means that it really want to fix carbon. This process is similar to the recharging of the battery.

Bose adds “The microbe uses electricity to charge its redox pool, storing up the electrons and making it highly reduced. To discharge it, the cell reduces carbon dioxide. The energy for all this comes from sunlight. The whole process keeps repeating itself, allowing the cell to make biomolecules with nothing more than electricity, carbon dioxide and sunlight. We hope that this ability to combine electricity and light to reduce carbon dioxide might be used to help find sustainable solutions to the energy crisis.

The new research answers basic science questions and provides plenty of opportunity for future bioenergy applications.

Published Researchhttps://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-09377-6

How Did Life Start on Earth

How Did Life Start on Earth?

The secret of how life on Earth began

How did life begin? There will hardly be a much bigger question. For the abundance of human history, nearly everybody believed some version of “the gods did it”. The other rationalization was out of the question.

Is the existence of life on Earth a lucky fluke or associate inevitable consequence of the laws of nature? Is it easy forever to emerge on a fresh fashioned planet, or is it the nearly not possible product of an extended series of unlikely events? Advances in fields as disparate as uranology, planetary science and chemistry currently hold promise that answers to such profound queries could also be around the corner. If life seems to possess emerged multiple times in our galaxy, as scientists hope to find, the trail thereto can’t be thus exhausting. Moreover, if the route from chemistry to biology proves easy to traverse, the universe might be abundant with life.

During a beautiful surprise, most the fresh discovered star systems look terribly totally different from our own. Will that mean one thing regarding our own, very odd, system favors the emergence of life? sleuthing signs of life on a planet orbiting a foreign star isn’t getting to be simple, however, the technology for teasing out delicate “biosignatures” is developing thus chop-chop that with luck we tend to may even see distant life at intervals one or 20 years.

Experiments to figure out origins

  1. Miller-Urey experiment

In 1952, Stanley Miller was operating with Harold C. Harold Urey designed associate experiment to visualize however advanced organic molecules might need to be fashioned underneath the conditions of early Earth. They believed the first Earth atmosphere would are composed of an alkane series, ammonia, chemical element, and vapor. They sealed these gases in associate airtight instrumentality, and then exposed the gases to sparks of electricity to simulate lightning. They continued the lightning for per week, and by the top, an achromatic substance had coated the walls of the instrumentality. This substance contained eleven of the twenty amino acids employed by life on earth. Since Miller and Harold Urey performed this experiment, its results are confirmed over and over by different scientists. Several scientists currently believe that the first Earth’s atmosphere was composed of carbonic acid gas, nitrogen, and vapor.

miller urey experiment

Image Source: Wikipedia

Modern experiments with this mixture of gases manufacture similar results suggesting that early conditions on Earth made advanced organic molecules that in all probability became the premise for the event of additionally advanced organisms. However, scientists haven’t been able to replicate the formation of even easy organisms or something which will very replicate itself. There square measure many theories on however the amino acids might need to be created the leap into the advanced, self-replicating life we tend to see nowadays.

  1. Vitalism

Before the 1800s, the general public believed in “vitalism”. This is often the intuitive concept that living things were blessed with a special, charming property that created them totally different from inanimate objects.

The chemicals of life will all be made up of easier chemicals that don’t have anything to try and do with life

Vitalism was typically certain up with cherished spiritual beliefs. The Bible says that God used “the breath of life” to animate the primary humans, associated an immortal soul may be a type of philosophical theory.

There is only 1 drawback. A philosophical theory is obviously wrong.

By the first 1800s, scientists had discovered many substances that appeared to be distinctive to life. One such chemical was an organic compound that is found in excretion and was isolated in 1799.

This was still, just, compatible with philosophical theory. Solely living things appeared to be ready to create these chemicals; therefore maybe they were infused with life energy which was what created them special.

But in 1828, the German chemist Friedrich Wöhler found some way to form organic compound from a typical chemical known as ammonia cyanate that had no obvious reference to living things. Others followed in his footsteps, and it had been presently clear that the chemicals of life will all be made up of easier chemicals that don’t have anything to try and do with life.

This was the top of philosophical theory as a scientific construct. However, individuals found it deeply arduous to giving up of the thought. For many, the expression that there’s nothing “special” regarding the chemicals of life appeared to rob a lifetime of its magic, to cut back the United States to mere machines. It also, of course, contradicted the Bible.

The mystery of life’s origin was unheeded for many years

Even scientists have struggled to shed philosophical theory. As late as 1913, English chemist Benjamin Moore was fervidly pushing a theory of “biotic energy”, that was basically philosophical theory below a special name. The thought had a robust emotional hold.

Today the thought clings on in sudden places. As an example, there are lots of science-fiction stories during which an individual’s “life energy” is boosted or drained away. Consider the “regeneration energy” employed by the Time Lords in Doctor United Nations agency, which might even be lidded up if it runs low. This feels futurist, however, it’s a deeply old school plan.

Still, when 1828 scientists had legitimate reasons to seem for a deity-free rationalization for the way the primary life shaped. However, they didn’t. It feels like a plain subject to explore, however in reality, the mystery of life’s origin was unheeded for many years. Maybe everybody was still too showing emotion connected to philosophical theory to require consecutive step.

  1. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

Darwin’s theory, come into being in On the Origin of Species in 1859, explained however the immense diversity of life may all have arisen from one common relative. Rather than every one of the various species being created separately by God, they were all descended from a primeval organism that lived uncountable years past the last universal common relative.

This idea established vastly controversial, once more as a result of it contradicted the Bible. Darwin and his ideas came underneath furious attacks, significantly from angry Christians.

darwin evolution theory

Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Illustration. Image Source: ConexaoCabeca (Pixabay)

Darwin knew that it absolutely was a profound question, however – maybe cautious of beginning one more fight with the Church – he solely appears to possess mentioned the difficulty in an exceeding letter written in 1871.

The first hypothesis for the origin of life was unreal in an exceedingly brutally totalitarian country

“But if (what a giant if) we tend to may conceive in some heat very little pool with all kinds of ammonia salts,—light, heat, electricity &c gift, that a macromolecule compound was with chemicals fashioned, able to endure still additional complicated changes…”

In alternative words, what if there was once a tiny low body of water crammed with easy organic compounds and bathed in daylight. a number of those compounds would possibly mix to create a life-like substance like a macromolecule, that may then begin evolving and changing into additional complicated.

What came first?

  1. Metabolism

Some scientists believe that metabolism, in different words – the power to interrupt down greenhouse gas within the presence of a catalyst into tiny organic molecules – was, however, the primary life developed. These reactions may need to be evolved to become additionally complicated, and then genetic molecules somehow shaped and joined in later. There are many alternative theories on specifically what sorts of molecules and catalysts would are concerned.

  1. Genes

Other scientists believe that the primary living organisms were genes. These genes were single molecules that had developed in such some way on be ready to catalyze their own replication. This theory looks additional possible since even easy systems like crystals are incontestible to evolve with modifications that breed true. Some scientists have urged that bound compositions of clay produce the correct surroundings for these reactions to propagate.

  1. RNA

RNA could be a complicated molecule found altogether living things that appear to be ready to catalyze its own copy. Several scientists believe that straightforward ribonucleic acid molecules developed and eventually became a lot of complicated and developed into the organisms we have a tendency to see these days.

  1. LUCA

Astrobiologists and biochemists wish to grasp one thing they decision LUCA (the Last Universal Common Ancestor). The thought is that every one life on Earth encompasses a common ascendant, reasonably sort of a great-great-great-….-great grandparent. They rummage around for traits that are common across all life forms and assume that any traits that are common to any or all life forms nowadays should are familial from LUCA, WHO had all furthermore.

Last Universal Common Ancestor by Wikipedia

Last Universal Common Ancestor. Image Source: Wikipedia

Biochemists recognize quite a bit concerning LUCA and her organic chemistry. She keeps her genetic info in DNA, she had many hundred proteins performing arts a range of functions, and she or he used a similar twenty amino acids we tend to use in our proteins. She used polymer and had some reasonably double-layer macromolecule membrane. She was in all probability the ascendant of the 3 kingdoms of life: Archaea, Eukaryotes, and bacterium.

LUCA lived a minimum of a pair of billion years past before there was a lot of atomic number 8 within the atmosphere. She used enzymes containing iron in her metabolic pathways the approach a lot of life on early Earth did. Learning however life arose on Earth is helpful to astrobiologists, however, they confine mind that the approaching life shaped on Earth isn’t the sole approach life may have shaped. It’s merely a method that it did.

Modern Researches

What next? Chemists are already asking whether or not our quiet life are often generated solely through one plausible pathway or whether or not multiple routes would possibly lead from easy chemistry to RNA-based life and on to trendy biology. Others are exploring variations on the chemistry of life, seeking clues on the attainable diversity of life “out there” within the universe. If all goes well, we are going to eventually learn the way strong the transition from chemistry to biology is and so whether or not the universe is packed with life-forms or—but for us—sterile.

Every single one that died before Darwin revealed the Origin of Species in 1859 was blind to humanity’s origins, as a result of they knew nothing of evolution. However everybody alive currently, riddance isolated teams, will recognize the reality regarding our kinship with alternative animals.

Similarly, everybody born when spaceman orbited the world in 1961 has lived in a very society that may jaunt alternative worlds. Notwithstanding we tend to ne’er go ourselves, voyage may be a reality.

Our world views these modifications in delicate ways. Arguably, they create the North American nation wiser. Evolution teaches the North American nation to treasure each alternative animate thing, for they’re our cousins. The voyage permits the North American nation to visualize our world from a distance, revealing however distinctive and fragile it’s.l honestly say they recognize wherever they came from. They’ll recognize what their final antecedent was like and wherever it lived.

This knowledge cans modification of the North American nation. On a strictly scientific level, it’ll tell the North American nation regarding however probably life is to create within the Universe, and wherever to seem for it. And it’ll tell the North American nation one thing regarding life’s essential nature. However on the far side that, we tend to cannot nevertheless recognize the knowledge the origin of life can reveal.