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Demosponge steroid biomarker 26-methylstigmastane provides evidence for Neoproterozoic animals

Zumberge, J. Alex and Love, Gordon D. and Cárdenas, Paco and Sperling, Erik A. and Gunasekera, Sunithi and Rohrssen, Megan and Grosjean, Emmanuelle and Grotzinger, John P. and Summons, Roger E. (2018) Demosponge steroid biomarker 26-methylstigmastane provides evidence for Neoproterozoic animals. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2 (11). pp. 1709-1714. ISSN 2397-334X. PMCID PMC6589438. doi:10.1038/s41559-018-0676-2.

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Sterane biomarkers preserved in ancient sedimentary rocks hold promise for tracking the diversification and ecological expansion of eukaryotes. The earliest proposed animal biomarkers from demosponges (Demospongiae) are recorded in a sequence around 100 Myr long of Neoproterozoic–Cambrian marine sedimentary strata from the Huqf Supergroup, South Oman Salt Basin. This C_(30) sterane biomarker, informally known as 24-isopropylcholestane (24-ipc), possesses the same carbon skeleton as sterols found in some modern-day demosponges. However, this evidence is controversial because 24-ipc is not exclusive to demosponges since 24-ipc sterols are found in trace amounts in some pelagophyte algae. Here, we report a new fossil sterane biomarker that co-occurs with 24-ipc in a suite of late Neoproterozoic–Cambrian sedimentary rocks and oils, which possesses a rare hydrocarbon skeleton that is uniquely found within extant demosponge taxa. This sterane is informally designated as 26-methylstigmastane (26-mes), reflecting the very unusual methylation at the terminus of the steroid side chain. It is the first animal-specific sterane marker detected in the geological record that can be unambiguously linked to precursor sterols only reported from extant demosponges. These new findings strongly suggest that demosponges, and hence multicellular animals, were prominent in some late Neoproterozoic marine environments at least extending back to the Cryogenian period.

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URLURL TypeDescription ReadCube access CentralArticle
Love, Gordon D.0000-0002-6516-014X
Cárdenas, Paco0000-0003-4045-6718
Grotzinger, John P.0000-0001-9324-1257
Summons, Roger E.0000-0002-7144-8537
Additional Information:© 2018 Springer Nature Limited. Received 22 July 2018; Accepted 22 August 2018; Published 15 October 2018. Funding support for this work came from the NASA Astrobiology Institute teams Alternative Earths (NNA15BB03A) and Foundations of Complex Life (NNA13AA90A), NASA Exobiology program (grant number 80NSSC18K1085), NSF Frontiers in Earth System Dynamics programme (grant number 1338810), Agouron Institute, and European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme through the SponGES project (grant agreement number 679849). Many thanks go to the sponge collectors, including T. Pérez, H. Tore Rapp, A. Plotkin, J.-S. Hong, Y. M. Huang, S. Rohde, S. Nichols, J. V. Lopez, B. Calcinai, G. Gatti, B. Ciperling, J. Boavida, J.-P. Fonseca, L. Magro and F. Azzini. The fieldwork on the Mohns and Knipovich Ridges aboard the RV G. O. Sars in 2014 was supported by the Research Council of Norway through the Centre for Geobiology, UiB (contract number 179560). A Vazella pourtalesii specimen was provided by E. Kenchington through funding from the Marine Conservation Target fund of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Other specimens were provided by E. Kenchington as Canadian lead for the NEREIDA (NAFO Potential Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems-Impacts of Deep-sea Fisheries) project led by Spain and Canada. We thank K. Ubhayasekera (Department of Chemistry, Uppsala University) for GC-MS analyses, and S. Rajendran and T. Aljazar (Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Uppsala University) for help with the isolation of sponge sterols. We thank Petroleum Development Oman for Neoproterozoic–Cambrian rock samples from the South Oman Salt Basin for ancient biomarker analysis. We are grateful to D. Rocher for GC-QQQ-MS analysis and GeoMark Research (Houston, TX) for providing oil samples from Eastern Siberia. Data availability: The authors declare that the data supporting the findings of this study are available within the paper and its Supplementary Information files. Author Contributions: J.A.Z. and G.D.L. planned the investigation and wrote the manuscript with input from P.C. and E.A.S. J.A.Z. processed and interpreted the lipid biomarker data with help from G.D.L., E.G., R.E.S. and M.R. P.C., E.A.S., R.E.S., S.G., M.R., E.G. and J.P.G. provided comments on drafts of the manuscript. The authors declare no competing interests.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Agouron InstituteUNSPECIFIED
European Research Council (ERC)679849
Research Council of Norway179560
Department of Fisheries and Oceans (Canada)UNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:11
PubMed Central ID:PMC6589438
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20181023-093455009
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:90351
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:23 Oct 2018 19:58
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 03:31

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