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2010 Annual Science Report

Arizona State University Reporting  |  SEP 2009 – AUG 2010

Stoichiometry of Life, Task 3b: Ancient Records - Genomic

Project Summary

The goal of Task 3b is to advance understanding of elemental cycling in ancient ecosystems. Team members are developing experimental and computational approaches aimed at genomic analysis of modern ecosystems, and extending these approaches in novel ways to infer the function and composition of ancient communities.

4 Institutions
3 Teams
3 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

Task 3b has focused on deciphering ancient genomic record in particular by developing and integrating experimental and computational approaches aimed at understanding modern ecosystems. Team members have been involved in a variety of collaborative and synergistic efforts towards these goals.

Eric Boyd, at Montana State University, is working with Ariel Anbar at ASU to understand the temporal relationship between the evolution of Mo-nitrogenase and oxygenic photosynthesis. This has resulted in a recent manuscript submission proposing that Mo-nitrogenase emerged in archaeal methanogens in an anaerobic environment, but after the emergence of oxygenic photosynthesis. In another recently submitted manuscript, Boyd and Anbar, working with Graduate Student Jennifer Glass (see Task 1f) are seeking to understand the relevance of declining Ni at 2.7 Bya on the emergence of Mo-nitrogenase.

Jason Raymond’s team is using genomic analysis to understand elemental cycling in complex microbial communities in Yellowstone Hot Springs. These communities occur across a range of dissolved oxygen concentrations and are providing insight into how metal use and elemental cycling would have changed as Earth’s atmosphere and oceans became progressively more oxygenated. Along with fuding postdoc and graduate student research in Raymond’s group, NAI funding has permitted this work to be presented during a number of invited talks over the past year, including the NAS Kavli Symposium in China, the USC Geobiology Symposium, and AbSciCon 2010.

Chris Dupont recently received a NAI Director1s Discretionary Funding to investigate the genomic distribution and evolution of metal-binding proteins. So far, this work has formed the focus a study published in PNAS in June. Related analyses contributed to two other manuscripts published in PNAS and one in press at Nature. This work was presented at two Gordon Research Conferences, the UK Society of General Microbiology meeting, and the Committee on the Origins and Evolution of Life.