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2002 Annual Science Report

Marine Biological Laboratory Reporting  |  JUL 2001 – JUN 2002

Executive Summary

Organisms much like some of today’s bacteria lived 3.5 billion years ago and were Earth’s only inhabitants for as long as 2 billion years. Bacteria are remarkably adaptable: they exist in the bodies of all living organisms and on all parts of Earth?on land, in ocean depths, in arctic ice, in hot springs, and even in the stratosphere. They are largely responsible for the decay and decomposition of organic matter, soil formation, and the life-essential cycling of such chemicals as carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur. A better understanding of how Earth’s ubiquitous and simple early life forms evolved and developed into ever more complex organisms will help scientists identify and evaluate the habitability potential of extraterrestrial environments.

The astrobiology team at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) studies the genomic basis of early life, its evolution into complex forms, and the dispersion of extant ... Continue reading.

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