Origin of Life on Earth: The Biological Processes. Geology 230, Fossils and Evolution

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1 Origin of Life on Earth: The Biological Processes Geology 230, Fossils and Evolution

2 What is Life? Internal chemical activity providing growth, repair, and generation of energy. The ability to reproduce. The capacity to respond to outside stimuli.

3 Components of Life 5 Principal components for all life: Water Carbohydrates: starches and sugars for energy Fats: for energy storage Proteins: structural tissues Nucleic acids: for reproduction

4 6 Dominant Elements of Life H, hydrogen O, oxygen C, carbon N, nitrogen P, phosphorous (in rocks) S, sulfur

5 Combining Elements into complex Organic compounds Miller s 1953 experiment: Combine gases of the early atmosphere in a sealed system with no oxygen. Heat the gases, add electrical sparks, cool the mixture. Amino acids formed after several days. They are the building blocks of protein.

6 Combining Elements into complex Organic compounds Miller combined CO 2, NH 3 (ammonia), CH 4 (methane), and H 2 Added electrical spark, plus cooling Formed amino acids, e.g. Serine C 3 H 7 NO 3

7 Miller s apparatus for creating amino acids from simple compounds in an anoxic atmosphere.

8 Miller s experimental apparatus -- note the black organics in the spark chamber

9

10 Combining Elements into complex Organic compounds Several variations of Miller s experiment have been run. These experiments have produced carbohydrates, fats, simple proteins, and the building blocks of nucleic acids: sugars, phosphates, and nitrogenous bases (ATCG).

11 How did life begin? No one has yet been able to create life in the lab. However, scientists have had only 50 years. Nature had 100s of millions of years. Primordial Soup with Julia Child

12 Experimental evidence: polymer synthesis proteinoids lipid spheres

13 What was earliest life like? Certainly it was single celled. Single celled life today, 3 branches: Archaea or Archaebacteria - prokaryotic cells Bacteria or Eubacteria - prokaryotic cells Eukarya - eukaryotic cells

14 The 3 Primary Branches of Life

15

16 Houston, we have a problem Which came first? In modern cells: DNA directs protein synthesis AND proteins catalyze DNA replication

17 Prokaryotes vs. Eukaryotes Prokaryotes - simple, single-celled organisms lacking a nucleus, organelles, and sexual reproduction. Many are anaerobic. Eukaryotes single-celled (protists) or multi-celled (plants and animals), have a nucleus, organelles, sex, and are strictly aerobic.

18 Prokaryotic cell vs. Eukaryotic cell

19 Eukaryotic Protozoans in pond water

20 Archaea, the most primitive forms of life Archaea use to be included with bacteria, but geneticists have separated them on the basis of their unique genetic composition. Living archaea are all anaerobic and they can tolerate extremes of heat and chemistry.

21 Archaea and Bacteria on the tip of a pin. False colorized. Both are prokaryotes.

22 Archaea Retain evidence for life on early earth. Tolerate: boiling water poisonous gases: e.g., hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, etc. high doses of UV radiation

23 Hot springs at Yellowstone National Park. Analog for the early earth?

24 Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, give the hot springs their distinctive color.

25 Archaea Living archaea include: fermenters: eat sugars methane producers: energy from CO 2 and hydrogen chemoautotrophs: make their food from chemicals in their environment

26 Where on earth did it happen? Darwin s warm little pond? concentrated organic soup (+) no protection from UV radiation (-) Deep-sea volcanic vents? protection from UV radiation (+) heat destroys amino acids (-)

27

28 The 5 Major Biochemical Steps in the Evolution of Life 1. Fermentation archaea Sugar ethyl alcohol + 2 units of energy 2. Methane production archaea CO 2 + 4H 2 CH H unit of energy

29 The 5 Major Biochemical Steps in the Evolution of Life 3. Anaerobic photosynthesis bacteria H 2 S + CO 2 sugar + water + sulphur uses sunlight for energy 4. Aerobic photosynthesis - bacteria, 3.5 BY H CO 2 sugar + O 2 uses sunlight for energy

30 The 5 Major Biochemical Steps in the Evolution of Life 5. Aerobic respiration - bacteria and eukarya Sugar + O 2 H CO units of energy

31 Anaerobic photosynthetic archaea in boiling mud

32 Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, give the hot springs their distinctive color.

33

34

35 Populations of archaea and bacteria in hot springs runoff, Yellowstone National Park

36 Populations of archaea and bacteria in hot springs runoff, Yellowstone National Park

37 Sampling Organisms from Hot Springs

38

39 Our Microbial Origins

40 Sex cells resemble free-living eukaryotes

41 Cilia are used by free-living eukaryote cells

42 White blood cells eat invaders the same way free-living eukaryotes eat (amoebas)

43 Mitochondria were once free-living, aerobic purple bacteria

44 Flagella are used by free-living eukaryotes for locomotion

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