The research, led by members of the University of British Columbia in Canada (UBC) and with the participation of the researcher from the Department of Genetics and Microbiology of the UAB Marc Llirós, have worked in Lake Kivu (Democratic Republic of the Congo), which presents large chemical similarities with the Proterozoic oceans, between 2.3 and 0.5 billion years ago. The deep waters of this lake do not have oxygen, but they do have large amounts of dissolved iron, which is currently a rarity on Earth. “This is the first time that we have observed microorganisms recycling Nitrogen through chemical reactions coupled with Iron in a body of water,” says Céline Michiels, lead author of the work and doctoral student at UBC. “Although these reactions have been described in the laboratory, their detection in Lake Kivu gives us evidence that they can play an important role in natural ecosystems

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and allows us to mathematically model these  Haiti Email List  reactions in Earth’s primitive oceans.” Michiels and his collaborators found that when some of the microorganisms in Lake Kivu reacted iron and nitrogen as nitrate, some of the nitrogen was converted to nitrogen gas (and therefore lost to the atmosphere), but the remainder of the nitrogen was recycled as ammonium. This ammonia remained dissolved and available as a nutrient for the different microorganisms present in the lake. The work, published in Nature Geoscience, has used mathematical models from real data collected in Lake Kivu, to know how this nitrogen recycling could have affected life in the primitive oceans during the Proterozoic. Researchers have seen that biological activity was not limited by the availability of nitrogen, as previously thought, but by another important nutrient for life, such as phosphorus.

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The limitation of nutrients would have played an important role, conditioning the nature and activity of life forms in the oceans during this period of time and, therefore, establishing the conditions for the development of multicellular life and eukaryotic organisms. “Lake Kivu, its physicochemistry, the organisms present and their metabolism is a window into the primitive past of the Earth, an exceptional living fossil that provides evidence of the history of the Earth and the design of mathematical models to reconstruct the chemistry and biology of almost two billion years ago ”, comments Marc Llirós. “With the help of these models and fossil records, we are learning more and more about how the evolution of life in the early oceans shaped the chemistry of the Earth’s surface during long periods of the Earth’s early history”, concludes the responsible researcher of the investigation,

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