May 20, 2016

Millions of Boreal Shield Lakes can be used to Probe Archaean Ocean Biogeochemistry

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
S L SchiffJ D Neufeld


Life originated in Archaean oceans, almost 4 billion years ago, in the absence of oxygen and the presence of high dissolved iron concentrations. Early Earth oxidation is marked globally by extensive banded iron formations but the contributing processes and timing remain controversial. Very few aquatic habitats have been discovered that match key physico-chemical parameters of the early Archaean Ocean. All previous whole ecosystem Archaean analogue studies have been confined to rare, low sulfur, and permanently stratified lakes. Here we provide first evidence that millions of Boreal Shield lakes with natural anoxia offer the opportunity to constrain biogeochemical and microbiological aspects of early Archaean life. Specifically, we combined novel isotopic signatures and nucleic acid sequence data to examine processes in the anoxic zone of stratified boreal lakes that are naturally low in sulfur and rich in ferrous iron, hallmark characteristics predicted for the Archaean Ocean. Anoxygenic photosynthesis was prominent in total water column biogeochemistry, marked by distinctive patterns in natural abundance isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, and iron. These processes are robust, returning reproducibly after water column re-oxygenation...Continue Reading

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