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How did life survive Earth's great oxygenation?

Fischer, Woodward W. and Hemp, James and Valentine, Joan Selverstone (2016) How did life survive Earth's great oxygenation? Current Opinion in Chemical Biology, 31 . pp. 166-178. ISSN 1367-5931. doi:10.1016/j.cbpa.2016.03.013.

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Life on Earth originated and evolved in anoxic environments. Around 2.4 billion-years-ago, ancestors of Cyanobacteria invented oxygenic photosynthesis, producing substantial amounts of O_2 as a byproduct of phototrophic water oxidation. The sudden appearance of O_2 would have led to significant oxidative stress due to incompatibilities with core cellular biochemical processes. Here we examine this problem through the lens of Cyanobacteria — the first taxa to observe significant fluxes of intracellular dioxygen. These early oxygenic organisms likely adapted to the oxidative stress by co-opting preexisting systems (exaptation) with fortuitous antioxidant properties. Over time more advanced antioxidant systems evolved, allowing Cyanobacteria to adapt to an aerobic lifestyle and become the most important environmental engineers in Earth history.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription
Fischer, Woodward W.0000-0002-8836-3054
Hemp, James0000-0001-7193-0553
Valentine, Joan Selverstone0000-0002-7174-925X
Additional Information:© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. We thank Usha Lingappa, Hope Johnson, Jena Johnson, Dianne Newman, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful feedback on ideas synthesized in this paper. We acknowledge support from a David and Lucile Packard Foundation Fellowship in Science and Engineering (WWF), and the Agouron Institute (JH and WWF). The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
David and Lucile Packard FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Agouron InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160406-145002386
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Official Citation:Woodward W Fischer, James Hemp, Joan Selverstone Valentine, How did life survive Earth's great oxygenation?, Current Opinion in Chemical Biology, Volume 31, April 2016, Pages 166-178, ISSN 1367-5931, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:65972
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:06 Apr 2016 21:57
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 23:51

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