Analysis of ancient rocks provides evidence for the Earth s early atmospheric and surface conditions.

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1 CHAPTER FIFTEEN: THE EVOLUTION OF MICROBIAL LIFE Microorganisms are called microbes for short. This category of life forms includes cellular life forms as well as the non-living crystals called viruses that parasitize living cells. The category called microbes includes viruses, bacteria, protists, some forms of fungus organisms and a few simple members of the animal kingdom. Microbes exist everywhere in abundance. Most are not harmful (except the viruses: those guys are ALL bad!) but some in category are known as pathogens and are harmful. The term pathogen indicates disease causing. EARLY EARTH AND THE ORIGIN OF LIFE Analysis of ancient rocks provides evidence for the Earth s early atmospheric and surface conditions. Earth was inorganic and its primitive conditions provided an environment conducive to the evolution of organic molecules. Urey and Miller (1953) developed an apparatus and procedures to test the possibility of organic evolution. Sidney Fox continued their research and revealed processes for pre-cellular aggregations, such as COACERVATES PROTOBIONTS PROTENOIDS Fox theorizes (along with many others) that simple prokaryotic cells developed from the pre-cellular masses over time. Fossil evidence (microfossils) from the Ediacaran Hills of Australia suggests that this may be so. The evolution of eukaryotes most probably proceeded from the associations of prokaryotes with freefloating organic masses. Evidence for these ideas comes from: Microfossils (such as those from the Ediacaran Hills). Prokaryotic DNA, which exists in your mitochondrial membranes. Results of various sorts of protobiont experimentation. The idea that eukaryotes evolved from the association of a prokaryote with an organic mass is stated in the Endosymbiont Theory of Margulis. The chart known as the Geologic Time Scale records a history of the geologic changes during the Earth s development and the impact of the changes (natural selection) on the evolution of life forms. Two theories help summarizes Earth-events that drive geologic change: 39

2 ALVAREZ (ASTEROID IMPACT) HYPOTHESIS WEGENER S THEORY OF CONTINENTAL DRIFT FIRST CELLS WERE PROBABLY PROKARYOTES Microfossils of Clostridium species have been found in parts of Australia, South Africa and parts of Canada. Stromatolites, which are rock columns with multiple tiny layers of prokaryotes (often cyanobacteria), provide much of the evidence that prokaryotes evolved first. Fossil stromatolite reefs are found in the Great Slave Lakes (Canada), the Gunflint Iron formation of Lake Superior and the Hamlin Pool of Western Australia. The first prokaryotes were probably anaerobic heterotrophs. Why? The first autotrophs evolved from heterotrophs and were chemotrophs (green sulfur and purple sulfur bacteria). Cyanobacteria were the first bacterial forms to split water to get H + for food production (photosynthesis). Evolution of populations of photosynthetic autotrophs changed the planet s atmosphere over time. The ozone layer formed and provided UV light protection. Eukaryotic cells descended from prokaryotic ones. A possible mechanism is suggested by Lynn Margulis, and is known as the endosymbionic theory (a/k/a endosymbiont theory). This theory states that there was an incorporation of prokaryote forms into existing organic masses, which provided survival advantage(s) for the prokaryotes. Evidence includes the fact that chloroplasts and mitochondria have their own primitive prokaryotic DNA. (Yes, in your mitochondria too!!!). Examples of mutualistic relationships exist in nature and include termites (and roaches), which have flagellated protozoans that live in their gut. The flagellate is Myxotricha paradoxa (a/k/a Mixotricha paradoxa), a member of the Trichonympha. The protozoans have spirochaete bacteria mutualistically living on their surface. This complex association allows termites to digest cellulose. OVERVIEW OF THE BACTERIA AND PROTISTS KINGDOM MONERA: THE PROKARYOTES (BACTERIA) BASIS CLASSIFICATION OF Old system based on presence of cell walls: Body shape: bacillus, coccus and spirillum. response to gram stain. GRAM STAIN RESPONSE Recent discoveries of bacteria that lack cell walls (mycoplasms) are changing the basis for classification. GRAM + = blue or GRAM - = red. HABITATS MOTILITY Free-living in air, water and soil. Some others are just plain parasites. If motile at all, these organisms will use a rotary flagella. 40

3 NUTRITIONAL MODES Chemotrophs, phototrophs and heterotrophs. Some in each category are aerobic and others are anaerobic. REPRODUCTIVE METHODS Some can switch back and forth (facultative) from aerobe to anaerobe. ASEXUAL Results in the production of clones. Binary fission Budding DEFENSES SEXUAL Provides variety among offspring instead of just identical clones. CAPSULES SLIME LAYERS ENDOSPORES Some bacteria are helpful, such as Lactobacillus and nitrogenfixing forms. Some cause disease, some cause infections, others contaminate food, some damage crops and others cause specific ailments such as sexually transmitted diseases. Treponema Neisseria KINGDOM PROTISTA: ANIMAL-LIKE, FUNGUS-LIKE AND PLANT-LIKE All Protists used to be a part of either the plant or animal kingdoms. Improved technology (starting in the 1860 s) allowed detailed studies that resulted in their placement in a separate kingdom. There are two sections in the Kingdom Protista: (1) The animal-like Protists, called protozoa. (2) The fungus-like Protists, called slime molds and water molds. (3) The plant-like Protists, called the algae. (1) PROTOZOA: THE ANIMAL-LIKE PROTISTS These organisms are unicellular or colonial. They are heterotrophs and therefore are classified (in part) based upon their methods of motility. 41

4 HABITAT REPRODUCTION Water, soil and some are parasites (such as Plasmodium, Giardia and Trichomonas). Asexual (binary fission or budding) or sexual (conjugation). NUTRITIONAL STYLE Heterotrophs! Consumers! Active seekers of food! METHOD OF MOTILITY Active seekers of food must have a way to get around and locate their nutrients. SARCODINES Pseudopods. The amoebas. CILIATES Cilia. Includes Paramecium and more. MASTIGOPHORANS Flagella. Individuals such as the Euglena. SPOROZOANS Lose their motility structures and become parasites. One example is Plasmodium sp., which cause malaria by parasitizing RBC s. All styles: free-living; various symbiotic mechanisms such as mutualism, commensalism and parasitism. (2) SLIME MOLDS, WATER MOLDS: THE FUNGUS-LIKE PROTISTS PLASMODIAL SLIME MOLDS CELLULAR SLIME MOLDS WATER MOLDS (3) ALGAE: THE PLANT-LIKE PROTISTS These organisms are photosynthetic and therefore are classified (in part) based on the particular pigments they use to trap the Sun s energy. HABITAT Aquatic, not terrestrial. NUTRITIONAL STYLE Photosynthetic autotrophs! MOTILITY Stationary (sessile) or free-floating. REPRODUCTION Asexual and sexual phases are both possibilities. PIGMENTS Important as food source for all life forms. Produce oxygen that creates our atmospheric supply of the gas. We use them as a food source. They are also used to make agar and carrageen. We harvest brown algae to get algin. We use algin to make ice cream, pudding, salad dressings, frozen foods and jelly beans. The major pigment color is used for classification placement. Hence, the algae have group names such as red algae, fire algae, green algae and brown algae. 42

5 Some algae are unicellular, some colonial and still others are actually multicellular. NOTE: Normally, the multicellular algae would be placed in the plant kingdom (plants are multicellular phototrophs), but because of some distinct differences in their pigments and some other structural differences, some taxonomists place them in the protist kingdom. This taxonomic placement is highly debatable. 43

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