How Cyanobacteria Took Over The World

How Cyanobacteria Took Over The World

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Cyanobacteria have a deceiving sense of the
understated about them. Compared to some of the complex organisms
we’ve featured on Journey to the Microcosmos, these blue-green bacteria seem almost basic
in their morphology and habits. They glide, divide, and photosynthesize. Oh, and they get eaten a bunch too. But you do not need to be complicated to be
important. Ecosystems are built on primary producers
like cyanobacteria. The energy they translate from the sun into
chemical stores gets passed up the food chain, sustaining life of all sizes. And long ago, some eukaryotes gained their
own photosynthetic abilities by absorbing cyanobacteria, an endosymbiotic event that
set the stage for the evolution of plants. And plants are a pretty big deal. Cyanobacteria, however, are more than just
a prologue for the story of complex lifeforms. You might say they are the creative forces
behind that tale. Billions of years ago, these tiny, seemingly
innocuous organisms brought something new to the planet, an innovation that would create
massive changes in their environment and set the stage for eons of remarkable life to come. This is the story of the Great Oxidation Event,
and how in the process of destroying the world as it existed, cyanobacteria created the Earth
as we know it now. The bulk of this tale takes place about 2.5
billion years ago, at the end of the Archean eon that had started about 1.5 billion years
before. This vast stretch of time included huge milestones
for our planet, including the early days of the microcosmos. But the Archean Earth looked very different
from ours. The planet’s crust was stabilizing, and
the oceans were filled with dissolved iron. Most importantly though, the world was anoxic,
meaning it had almost no oxygen. And because life reflects the environment
it fills, the earliest creatures on our planet were anaerobic microorganisms, built to withstand
and thrive in an oxygen-less environment. Some of these organisms may have been phototrophic,
but their photosynthetic machinery relied on iron and sulfide in place of water, similar
to bacteria like thiospirillum that thrive in anoxic conditions today. But for all the dramatic changes in Earth
and in life that took place during the Archean eon, the real transformation was only just
beginning. We don’t know quite when cyanobacteria emerged, just that it’s some time before 2.5 billion years ago. And when they did, cyanobacteria brought something
new to the photosynthetic mix: they used light to split water into its chemical components:
hydrogen, which could then be used to make other energy-storing compounds, and oxygen,
which was released into the environment as a waste product. This simple chemical reaction is the source
of the Great Oxidation Event, which you might also hear called the Great Oxygenation Event:
an accumulation of oxygen in a previously anoxic world. That reaction would go on to become one of
the most important ones to life, the source of the very oxygen you are breathing now. And remarkably, cyanobacteria were not just
the first organisms to evolve oxygenic photosynthesis; as far as we know, on our planet anyway, they
are the only organisms that do so. Other photosynthetic bacteria don’t produce
oxygen. And the eukaryotic organisms that gained the
capacity for photosynthesis did so by co-opting the talents and machinery of endosymbiotic
cyanobacteria. And as wonderful as that is now, back at the
end of the Archean eon, oxygenic photosynthesis didn’t just make cyanobacteria unique, it
made them catastrophic. Oxygen is great–if you are evolved to tolerate
it and to use it. But for the anaerobic microorganisms specifically
evolved for a world without oxygen, this newfangled molecule was toxic. The species that survived the Great Oxidation Event likely did so by finding oxygen-less sanctuaries. And meanwhile, cyanobacteria continued pumping
out oxygen. Yes, they are tiny, and the amount of gas
they produce is even tinier. But with hundreds of millions of years and many many organisms, all of those reactions added up, affecting not only the lives of
their fellow microbes, but also the chemistry and climate of the entire planet. For one, cyanobacteria might be responsible
for setting off a series of ice ages. As they consumed carbon dioxide and produced
oxygen that reacted with methane, they cut down on the planet’s stock of greenhouse
gases and dropped temperatures to glacial levels. As you might imagine, these early ice ages
were not particularly hospitable for life, including for cyanobacteria. Coupled with the anaerobic microbes that died
due to all of that oxygen in the atmosphere, the Great Oxidation Event is responsible for
an extinction so ancient that we don’t have the tools or physical evidence to even fully
describe it. But life still managed to endure. And as it did, the oxygen produced by cyanobacteria
would go on to form our planet’s ozone layer, shielding the survivors from dangerous ultraviolet
wavelengths of light. Moreover, the availability of oxygen in the
water and air would go on to make aerobic metabolism possible, providing organisms more
energy than anaerobic metabolism ever could and thus the capacity for more complex life. This intertwined story of destruction and
evolution is built on evidence scientists have gathered from geological and biological
sources. Some parts are etched in rocks, like the banded
iron formations formed by oxygen reacting with iron in the ocean. And other parts are encoded in the genes of
modern day cyanobacteria, whose sequences and machinery elucidate what their ancient
counterparts may have looked like. But characterizing the lives of microbes that
existed billions and billions of years ago is really, really hard, especially because
we haven’t uncovered many Archean fossils. One recent paper begins with the following
confession: “Writing about early microbial evolution is a daunting task, so it was possibly
unwise to agree to do it.” And as you dig through the research on the subject,
that honest evaluation rings true. There are many gaps in our understanding of
the Great Oxidation Event, gaps built on unanswered fundamental questions like, “how did photosynthesis
even evolve?” We alluded to one of the most important gaps
earlier. It’s the question of when cyanobacteria
first appeared, and that question is key to understanding how they caused the Great Oxidation
Event. If that event began shortly after the evolution
of cyanobacteria and oxygenic photosynthesis, then it all seems relatively straightforward:
the cyanobacteria produced oxygen, the oxygen accumulated, and catastrophe ensued, but some
evidence suggests that cyanobacteria emerged well before the accumulation of oxygen on
Earth, and if that’s the case, then we have to ask, “What took so long for the Great
Oxidation Event to begin?” Maybe there was a geological delay of some
sort. Or maybe oxygenic photosynthesis wasn’t the
only cyanobacterial innovation: maybe after their first appearances on the planet, they
developed some other trait that bumped their oxygen production up even more. One group of scientists investigated that
very possibility and came to a possible explanation that we don’t often associate with bacteria:
multicellularity. Some modern cyanobacteria species form filaments
of individual cells, a few of which even take on specialized functions like nitrogen fixation. These scientists traced the origins of that
trait to before the Great Oxidation Event. So maybe multicellularity allowed cyanobacteria
to not only better contend with the challenges of their environment, but to produce more
oxygen than before. And perhaps this was the added trait needed
to, say, allow a new kind of bacteria to take over an entire world…a claim over our planet
that they have, in many ways, never given up. Of course, that idea is scientific conjecture
built on the available evidence, which means it is still subject to debate. But the seemingly simple question underlying
it, the question of when cyanobacteria evolved, reflects what’s so important about the Great
Oxidation Event in general: that questions of biology and geology and climate are so
intertwined that to understand the history of this planet, we have to piece together
the history of the microcosmos. And if something as small as cyanobacteria
can set off a catastrophe of extinction and ice, well, then what will the planet look
like when we’re through with it? Thank you for coming on this journey with
us as we explore the unseen world that surrounds us. The Stentor coeruleus pins have been restocked. There’s a link in the description so you
can check that out. Thanks to everybody who’s sporting one of
their favorite microorganisms on their backpack or jacket now. And thank you, also, to all of these people
who make this show possible. So, if you like what we do, you can thank
them for that. What a wonderful group of people, that allow
us to explore these big weird mysteries of life on this planet. If you want to see more from our Master of
Microscopes James, you can check out Jam and Germs on Instagram, and if you want to see
more from us, I bet you can figure out how to subscribe.

100 thoughts on “How Cyanobacteria Took Over The World

  • Erik Andrae Post author

    10:40 how can we/ they prove that the genes are specifically that old?

  • Fangles Post author

    So the solution to global warming = Cyanobacteria Farms? I'll get my tractor.

  • Bhushan Pai Post author

    The video and info are so awesome but the drowsy music and calming voice put me to sleep….ZZZZZ. Please change the narration

  • Tyler Nope Post author

    BUT CO2 LEVELS IN THE 1850S! screams in libtard

  • Sarah bearah Post author

    That was amazing !!

  • adamatari Post author

    I remember reading something about the great oxygenation which claimed it didn't really take off until all the iron and other stuff that could be oxidized got oxidized – basically that there was a rise in oxygen but it couldn't build up to modern concentrations due to reacting and being fixed.

  • Brownskikuca Garlic Bread Post author

    My Meaning of life: hey look, this is a cute little thingy, it likes to wiggle around and eat some of this soup, can we, like, have more of them, and like, make them be wiggly eatly and cutly for some more time?

  • Brownskikuca Garlic Bread Post author

    Change da world
    my final message
    Goodb ye

  • zyxzevn Post author

    I wonder if there are some traces of these bacteria on Mars..
    Bacteria tracks in Mars meteorite?
    Or even fungi?

  • Tex Post author

    How do you have nearly zero oxygen and yet plenty of water to start the oxidation event?

  • нет маркиз! Post author

    The scale on the bottom right is a great addition.

  • Patrick Post author

    I wish you'd talked about how oxygen took a long time to accumulate in the seas because as it was produced it reacted with carbon or free floating iron molecules or any of the things oxygen freely reacts to and was sequestered. It took fifty million years or so for that process reached equilibrium. After all, mid ocean vents or unwater volcanoes were continually adding more things to oxidize. Once everything was oxidized, finally, molecular oxygen started to accumulate in the oceans and leak out a bit into the atmosphere. As soon as it did it immediately formed oxides and was gone. Every rock surface, atmospheric methane, everything that could oxidize on land or in the atmosphere had to oxidize before free oxygen could begin to accumulate. That took a long time and you didn't mention any of it!

  • Rishav Post author

    thank you cyanobacteria

  • LMNOP Post author

    someday i'll find and listen to the soundtrack for this channel…..someday…..if i can find it.

  • Michael Deadman Post author

    Some theories regarding the possibility of silicone based life, suggest oxygen would be toxic to silicone based life. If there was any silicone based life this event could have wiped it out.

  • ArieXzion ForkenFire Post author

    I'm tired all the time mommy.
    Everytime it get's foggy out I get super tired and I get a really upset stomach mommy.
    I don't like it when it's foggy mommy.
    My skin is also burns and hurt's when it get's foggy outside mommy.
    I can't think clear mommy.


  • KoolAidKirby7 Post author

    My chemistry teacher was just mentioning this in class earlier today

  • heliosphaere sonnen_wind_kind Post author

    i need this 3 hours long.

  • Bruce IDW Post author

    Hear that! Microbes cause serious climate change.

  • Organon Post author

    Oh, I thought this was Eons.

  • Contemplative Whale Post author

    The Great Oxygenation Event

  • Gounen Post author

    Aliens studying Earth should watch this…

  • Randy Watson Post author

    Jewels only 0.01mm in size 05:46
    It's extremely facinating that the humanly uncountable micro cellular organisms are responsible for chemical chained reactions in an undefineable rate in time.

  • Sam Herman Post author

    Does the microcosmos react to sound?

  • Leg Post author

    ha you guys BREATHE oxygen I eat it like the way you're suppose to

  • Tiffany Welton Post author

    Cyanobacteria are prevalent with Blue-Green Algae which are everywhere. They bloom together throughout the weather patterns of the US. Making toxic, Blue-Green algae almost present at the same time for warmer months.

  • HenryManson Post author

    again its Muscle Hank's Sexy voice xD
    waay tooo smooth to talk about bacteria!

  • Esra Erimez Post author

    Climate change!!! How dare you? Call Greta!!!

  • Johan Sebastián Post author

    I love this vídeos, today i put this kind of images on my presentation In the cellular biology class

  • mbanana23456 Post author

    That time cyanobacteria nearly farted the world to death

  • Ambrose Reed Post author

    Brilliant match cuts in this episode!

  • Howdy Doody Post author

    Why do you think the dinosaurs got so big? And the mosquitoes? And the dragonflies? Oxygen!

  • tracey adkins Post author

    Was it described as the incomprehensible depth of deep time. Or something? Took a long time.

  • Gojira Post author

    Maybe the natural buffers let it accumulate without repercussions until it was too late and then lost affinity with the change of pH, causing a rapid shift

  • Marco David Post author

    Love this channel

  • Christopher House Post author

    Before Oxygen there was no Ozone. Without Ozone solar radiation would shine down upon a world with water…that has plenty of Iron dissolved in it. When this happened it created plenty of H2O2. The same oxidative stress the free oxygen causes is much worse when caused by Hydrogen Peroxide. So perhaps there is no reason to worry about all the little bugs getting Oxygen poisoning, they had millenia of experience to prepare them for an Oxygen world.

  • Matthew Koller Post author

    Hey, question:
    What caused the Ozone layer to form? I am aware that it is ionized currently and that O3 only lasts a short time. but how did enough of it gather to become ionized?

    Maybe I just have my spheres in the wrong order in my head.

  • Charlotte Marceau Post author

    Perhaps the delay could be explained by iron acting as an oxygen sink, until there was no more surface iron to oxidise and then oxygen accumulated 🙂

  • Mr. Markan Post author

    Serious question, could viruses ever evolve into complex life?like people or animals….given a few billion years.

  • Kristin G. Myhre Post author


  • Paul Girtu Post author

    Comment down below how you felt when you opened this vid and realised this isn't PBS Eons.

  • Ramen Noodles Post author

    Music a bit too loud

  • Ramen Noodles Post author

    Love this series!

  • peter lewis Post author

    Is this why plants seem green ? As there was no green light when photosynthesis first evolved ?

  • Aaron Lucas Post author

    Can we talk about what an amazing shot 11:17 is? Absolutely breathtaking.

  • John Salinas Post author

    The oxygen first had to oxidize all the dissolved iron and other reducing species in the ocean. Then, the rate of oxygen release had to out-pace the introduction of hydrogen sulfide, methane and other reducing species that geologic and biological processes generated.

    Given the sub-optimal absorption spectrum of chlorophyll, a leading theory is that cyanobacteria had to compete with and live in the shadow of the dominant anerobic pink sulphur bacteria of the time. Maybe this struggle took a long time to play out until cyanobacteria passed a threshold and relegated the pink sulphur bacteria to niche habitats.

  • Sassifrass7 Post author

    Good point Hank,…..what might we do to the planet! Maybe we are less destructive than the cyanobacteria. Certainly cyanobacteria are still killing things to day!

  • Michal Kottman Post author

    There's a very strong G-Man vibe in the narration.

  • Luis Hernandez Post author

    Captivating and fascinating, as habitual for this channel. Congrats.

  • Oqsy Post author

    Cyanobacteria? I don’t even know ya!

  • asaenvolk Post author

    What took so long for the oxygenation event to take place? Iron ore, that is to say the creation of it, we even have massive bands for iron ore that came from just before the Great Oxygen Event, ore we mine in mass to this day. See back in the day, with O2 to oxidase it in the atmosphere there was massive amounts of iron dissolved in the oceans. and it would have take a rather long time to remove it.

  • David Beak Post author

    Enjoyed the video thanks

  • Ruslan Post author

    Would be cool if the vids were in 60fps. Could make the movement of all the life even more fluid, like you get in Kurzgesagt video animations

  • Bilb Ono Post author

    It took me this long to realize the reason why the narrator sounds so familiar is that its Hank Green, from scishow and other educational youtube channels. Lol I knew I heard this guy before!

  • L Dewey Post author

    As others have described, iron "captured" a lot of the oxygen (forming the banded iron formations) prior to atmospheric oxygen levels rising. One reason why multicellularity could have developed is that, by being multicellular, an organism could more effectively "protect" itself from toxic levels of oxygen. (A great book that describes these processes is, "Oxygen: the Molecule that Made the World", by Dr Nick Lane. Book is still remarkably relevant and current, in spite of being published in 2002).

  • Lakario Davis Post author

    lol my thinking is if there is a molecule more energetic than oxygen? if so they might evolve to produce it. which could kill us and all over oxygen-breathing organisms but making way for something, even more, better than us. a super-intelligent species that doesn't breathe oxygen.

  • reinl7 Post author

    “You don’t have to be complicated to be important.” – some A* life advice from Hank Green there!

  • Casey Post author

    Love the video! How come when the tardigrade is eating the cyanobacteria in the beginning, it is eating the green part and there is a clear part left over? Is it like a cell wall type thing that is left over?

  • HeyHeyHarmonicaLuke Post author

    It took 6 minutes before it clicked that this is Hank Green's voice. I'd already subscribed by like 2 minutes in though

  • Dragrath1 Post author

    It is also worth noting that multicellular life seems to have gotten a brief doomed start not long after the end of the Paleozoic snowball Glaciation 2.1Ga with the Francevillian biota unfortunately for hem it didn't last long several 100Ma later for oxygen levels to crash ending the first complex possibly Eukaryotic multicellular life's brief run of increasing complexity and innovation. Took a whole 1.5Ga for multicellular life to make a resurgence.

  • sir ukin Post author

    Perhaps a possible explanation is as follows: In order for the cyanobacteria to thrive, it requires conditions like the volcanic eruption in Hawaii recently last year. Warm temperatures, and water that is rich with the mineral content needed to cause a cyanobacteria and phytoplankton bloom. The methane produced by the existing anaerobic bacteria drove temperatures up across the globe. This in turn created the ideal conditions for oxygen generating microorganisms in our oceans. Suddenly, a massive global bloom occurred causing the oyxgen content of our atmosphere to climb to around 20%. And what we're doing today, is burning fossil fuels and creating the predator prey cycle to start again. Oyxgen generating microorganisms displacing methane generating anaerobic bacteria.

  • dillon564 Post author

    I don't know if I watch this channel for the interesting content or this dude's asmr voice.

  • ijansk Post author

    Such tiny creatures gave us oxygen. Impressive.

  • MisterFister Post author

    Great video. Awesome educational value. I'm a better rounded and more informed person for having watched it.

    Also, the choice of musical accompaniment was outstanding, and quite starkly displays the fact that you want to ensure that all of your viewers throw their viewing device into the nearest panel of drywall, never to recall your names in a pleasant or flattering context. If you TRULY hate people who watch YouTube videos, and if you TRULY want them to wish ill fortunes upon you, I urge you to PLEASE continue selecting music exactly like the acoustic bile and vomit that we are subjected to in this video. Bravo, and congratulations.

  • David Beddoe Post author

    I really hope I see billions of people die pointlessly while I still have to exist.

  • David Beddoe Post author

    Self-replicating AI that eats plastic could get rid of us, hopefully.

  • 99redragons Post author

    I would love to see an episode showing microorganisms that live in humans and animas. Gut bacteria, specifically, fascinates me, but i also wonder, what does tooth plaque look like under a microscope? Is there bacteria in blood? How ‘sterile’, really, is urine?

  • Bruno Borges Machado Post author

    I'd say the narrator already gave the main clue for the final mistery: the cianobacteria need water to "breathe". And I think the archean Earth had little water, right ? Follow the water frowth rate and you can probably follow these creatures potential growth as well.

  • WetDroiD Edition Post author

    Imagine if ancient cyanobacteria had become aware and woke: "Wait, we are polluting the world with oxygen! We must stop! Stop the emission of oxygen into the atmosphere! How dare you?"

  • John Payne Post author

    Which came first, the ability to split water into O and H2, or the ability to split carbon dioxide into C and O2 ?

  • k98killer Post author

    Imagine what kinds of advanced life will arise from the ashes of humanity. Maybe something that uses plastic in its neurons would be appropriate, and their greatest task will be to rediscover how to create plastics so they can ensure they don't deplete environmental sources.

  • H0neycakes Post author

    Have you seen this?! Hank, you should do a videon on this!

  • Tim Webb Post author

    I love the shot at 4:27! The Aphanizomenon is nicely framed to appreciate its intricacies, and in the background are happy looking spinny-ball-things!

  • Kurzula5150 Post author

    The Archean bacteria music is particularly evocative.

  • Crushi .Music, Art & Love. Post author

    Love is real Crushi 🧡 💛 💚 💙 💜 🖤 +

  • Tim Hofstetter Post author

    I've been telling people about this one for about forty years now… including reminders of how humans are following right along in the footsteps of the cyanobacteria, except in a much more complex manner befitting our much more complex structure.

  • Mabitesurtaglotte Post author

    Hello JITM, would you be able to make some of these on Coronavirus or Anthrax type organisms? (Maybe a little bit less dangerous)

  • Raskolnikov666 Post author

    I love these videos and this channel. I loved the explanation of the theorie.

  • Thorsummoner0 Post author

    i adore your soothing voice over

  • Jumpy the Hat Post author

    broke: Archean Eon
    woke: Archeon

  • dbltrplx Post author

    This narrator is way too creepy
    For me, 🤫

  • Yuval Nehemia Post author

    That last line about humans hit too close to home…

  • Sean Conway Post author

    All you need to do is look at how dead zones in the ocean happen today. Algae blooms, cynobacteria & massive amounts of oxygen, and then anoxic bacteria.

  • Clover HighFive Post author

    The last bit – the green algae and cyanobacteria – just… breathtaking, mesmerizing, calming… <3

  • Recurve Post author

    7:10 not gonna lie I paused the video because of how slick that transition was

  • Rebecca Conn Post author

    We are not baas hawg on this planet.

  • Hus 9 Post author

    Will there be a extension event caused by carbon dioxide?

  • Angelus Irae Post author

    AOC trying to ban hamburgers and I'm over here like anthropogenic CO2 emissions don't drive climate change, solar cycles and transitively the Pacific Decadal Oscillation do. If the world ever got too warm, we would need only seed cyanobacteria pools around the world to cool it down. It's like science forgets its own information and then claims we need more research for answers we already have. Too much IPCC grant pipeline corruption.

  • Universum Post author

    See, the anaerobic bacteria are just playing the long game. Cyanobacteria > Complex life > Humans > Pollution > A Carbon Dioxide saturated world again.

    Anaerobic Bacteria: They'll never see it coming..

  • T F Post author

    Thanks for the vid. Always great.

  • Fionn O'Sullivan Post author

    Don't mean to be a fun sponge but at 5:20 Hank mentions how the great oxygenation event resulted in a mass extinction of anaerobes who couldn't tolerate oxygen. This is an easily digestible theory but one that has been criticised for lacking any real evidence (even the source in the video description that mentioned it was within an interview and not a peer-reviewed article). I love this channel no less, but we should always be careful of historiography when it comes to evolution!

  • Foslix Post author

    you are now breathing manually

  • Lotza Milk Post author

    Love your channel, never imagined this could be so intriguing.

  • j solorio Post author

    You should do the corona virus next

  • Reigh Post author

    Hey so I know NASA is working on lots of stuff to colonize mars probably already considered heat resilient crops and I know the 3D printing challenge to build Ai (a you tube special) to make the kinds of buildings they need for mars. Those are very similar to those I suggested as rapid deploy building robots build here for farm infrastructure if there way say more water across the flatter parts of Africa. I know before ancient drought that water ways used to flow outward to the sea. I know I suggested a crazy idea of them flowing inward using low grade man dug channels into this by gone savanna. But as a Scientific Physics measure could you visit Blue Thunder's super computers used to modernize efficiency of crops and do machine learning predictions of the weather. I'm wondering what we could learn about the causes of the regions warming in ancient Africa and Egypt and how models of moving or restoring some major water ways of ancient lakes might reverse effect of those droughts and warming. I recently learned of these ancient savanna's on a PBS broadcast episode over the old airwaves and I had imagined that is what caused a region I knew little about called the malaria belt. This and other scientific measures of the research in the show such as studies of mud in receding lakes in Egypt helps confirms my imagining of those events. Maybe a great fire or a confluence of events triggered the initial drought or loss of atmosphere such as solar radiation increasing or maybe they just worshiped the sun because of the increasing heat after a loss of protective atmosphere? I mean not to be too supernatural but you can ask my local pagan group that when asked what pagan regions I was focused on for some reason I was drawn to Egyptians before all this because if felt like the beginning of certain studies of nature. The pyramids as they related to both cosmological studies of the stars and the sun and for some reason in my head the studies of the sun and time with the placement and movement of shadows of the great pyramids just seems like a giant clock to me for planting crops and then I just read this. @t Anyways wondering how the ML models at Blue Thunder could reduce the uncertainty of the General Circulation Models by reducing statistically or dynamically down-scaling for impact studies of Hydrological Cycles over the Congo and Upper Blue Nile Basins: Evaluation of General Circulation Model Simulations and Reanalysis Products found here. @t

  • GaslitWorld f. Melissa B Post author

    Thank you Cyanobacteria and Mother Nature for teaming up. I love green plants and I am a confessed kale eater.

  • Stefen Fuqua Post author

    What microscope does jam use?

  • Intelligent Design Academy Post author

    Cyanobacterias, amazing evidence of design

    They’re the most numerous organisms on the planet. There are more of them on Earth than there are observable stars in the Universe and these little creatures are what enabled you – and every other complex living thing that has ever lived on the planet, from dinosaurs to daffodils – to exist.

    The main source for food and oxygen are cyanobacteria and chloroplasts that do photosynthesis. Cyanobacteria are essential for the nitrogen cycle, and so to transform nitrogen in the atmosphere into useful form for organisms to make the basic building blocks for life. The end product of photosynthesis is glucose, – needed as food source for almost all life forms. For a proponent that life took millions of years to emerge gradually and biodiversity as well, and so cyanobacteria and chloroplasts, that came hundreds of millions of years after life started, that is a huge problem. No oxygen in the atmosphere and UV radiation would kill the organisms. Nor could they emerge without an adequate food source. Looking everything in that perspective, it makes a lot of sense to believe God created everything in six days. And created the atmosphere with oxygen, and the nitrogen cycle fully setup, and plants and animals like cyanobacteria, essential in the food chain and nitrogen cycle. That would solve the – problem of nutrition, – the problem of UV radiation – and the problem of the nitrogen source required for life.

    The existence in the same organism of cyanobacteria of two conflicting metabolic systems, oxygen-evolving photosynthesis and oxygen-sensitive nitrogen fixation, is a puzzling paradox. Explanations are pure guesswork.

    Researchers have long been puzzled as to how the cyanobacteria could make all that oxygen without poisoning themselves. To avoid their DNA getting wrecked by a hydroxyl radical that naturally occurs in the production of oxygen, the cyanobacteria would have had to evolve protective enzymes. But how could natural selection have led the cyanobacteria to evolve these enzymes if the need for them didn’t even exist yet? The explanations are fantasious at best.

    Nick Lane describes the dilemma in the book Oxygen, the molecule that made the world:

    Before cells could commit to oxygenic photosynthesis, they must have learned to deal with its toxic waste, or they would surely have been killed, as modern anaerobes are today. But how could they adapt to oxygen if they were not yet producing it? An oxygen holocaust, followed by the emergence of a new world order, is the obvious answer; but we have seen that there is no geological evidence to favor such a catastrophic history. In terms of the traditional account of life on our planet, the difficulty and investment required to split water and produce oxygen is a Darwinian paradox.

    If there was a reduced atmosphere without oxygen some time back in the past ( which is btw quite controversial ) then there would be no ozone layer, and if there was no ozone layer the ultraviolet radiation would penetrate the atmosphere and would destroy the amino acids as soon as they were formed. If the Cyanobacterias however would overcome that problem ( its supposed the bacterias in the early earth lived in the water, but that would draw other unsurmountable problems ), and evolve photosynthesis, they would have to evolve at the same time protective enzymes that prevented them oxygen to damage their DNA through hydroxyl radicals. So what evolutionary advantage would there be they to do this ?

    Cyanobacteria are the prerequisite for complex life forms. They are said to exist already 3,5 bio years, and did not change morphologically. They do oxygenic photosynthesis, where the energy of light is used to split water molecules into oxygen, protons, and electrons. It occurs in two stages. In the first stage, light-dependent reactions or light reactions capture the energy of light and use it to make the energy-storage molecules ATP and NADPH. During the second stage, the light-independent reactions use these products to capture and reduce carbon dioxide.

    They have ATP synthase nano-motors. How could ATP synthase “evolve” from something that needs ATP, manufactured by ATP synthase, to function? Absurd “chicken-egg” paradox!

    ATP Synthase is a molecular machine found in every living organisms. It serves as a miniature power-generator, producing an energy-carrying molecule, adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. The ATP synthase machine has many parts we recognize from human-designed technology, including a rotor, a stator, a camshaft or driveshaft, and other basic components of a rotary engine. This machine is just the final step in a long and complex metabolic pathway involving numerous enzymes and other molecules—all so the cell can produce ATP to power biochemical reactions, and provide energy for other molecular machines in the cell. Each of the human body’s 14 trillion cells performs this reaction about a million times per minute. Over half a body weight of ATP is made and consumed every day!

    A rotary molecular motor that can work at near 100% efficiency.

  • Aljaž Božičko Post author

    Cyanobacteria: Ozone? Yes … totally a plan back then, not just some waste toxic gas mutating into global radiation shield, totally a plan, yes, how could we be so irresponsible not to predict such a thing would occur? Be a little bit more grateful, would you?

  • Triin Rainboot Post author

    the visual transitions are really nice on this one 🙂

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