The Moon and Cyanobacteria: the role of daylength and microbial mats in Earth’s Oxygenation

Although the onset of oxygenic photosynthesis by cyanobacteria and the Great Oxidation Event occurred nearly 3 billion years ago, the atmospheric oxygen levels remained rather low for more than a billion years after that. The end of this ‘boring billion’ years of oxygen stasis was marked by a step increases in oxygen levels, and the rapid emergence of multicellular and complex life forms that have since defined (aerobic) life on Earth. The drivers and controls on this step-wise oxygenation pattern of Earth's atmosphere remain under debate.

In this talk, I will present the details of our study that establishes an unrecognized mechanistic link between the Earth-Moon system, change in daylength and the oxygenation of the bacterial world. The fundamental effect of longer daylength leading to higher oxygen export emerges from the interaction of molecular diffusion and solar illumination dynamics, and is amplified by metabolic regulation and microbial behavior. The dynamics of the Earth-Moon system plausibly had major impacts on global oxygen levels during critical turning points of Earth’s biogeochemical evolution towards a profusely oxic world.


Seminar address:
Meeting ID: 662 3303 6927


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