Hypothesis formed on evolution of archaea

Jun 08, 2006

U.S. scientists say they've found evidence microorganisms called archaea may have evolved from a moderate temperature environment.

Since their discovery in the late 1970s, archaea have fascinated scientists with their ability to thrive where no other life can -- in conditions that are extremely hot, acidic or salty.

In the 1990s, however, scientists discovered archaea occur widely in more mundane, low-temperature environments, such as oceans and lakes. And now University of Georgia and Harvard University researchers say archaea might have evolved from a moderate-temperature environment rather than from their high-temperature counterparts -- as most scientists had believed.

"Archaea represent one of the three domains of life on Earth," said Chuanlun Zhang, lead author of the study and an associate professor of marine sciences at UGA. "Understanding their evolution may shed light on how all life forms evolve and interact with the environment through geological history."

Zhang and colleagues examined a common group of archaea known as Crenarchaeota. He says Crenarchaeota's low-temperature success may involve a unique molecule known as crenarchaeol that allows the organism's cell membrane to remain flexible in cooler environments.

The study appears in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Genetic basis of color diversity in coral reefs discovered

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Life can survive on much less water than you might think

Nov 04, 2014

"Follow the water" has long been the mantra of our scientific search for alien life in the Solar System and beyond. We continue seeking conditions where water can remain liquid either on a world's surface ...

Rock-dwelling microbes remove methane from deep sea

Oct 15, 2014

Methane-breathing microbes that inhabit rocky mounds on the seafloor could be preventing large volumes of the potent greenhouse gas from entering the oceans and reaching the atmosphere, according to a new ...

Recommended for you

A rare glimpse at the elusive saharan cheetah

9 hours ago

Research by scientists and conservationists from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Zoological Society of London, and other groups published today in PLOS ONE shows that critically endangered Saharan cheeta ...

In a role reversal, RNAs proofread themselves

10 hours ago

Building a protein is a lot like a game of telephone: information is passed along from one messenger to another, creating the potential for errors every step of the way. There are separate, specialized enzymatic ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.