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The part a photo shows a reddish-yellow mound with small chimneys growing out of it. Part b micrograph shows rod-shaped bacteria about two microns long swimming over a thicker mat of bacteria.
This (a) microbial mat, about one meter in diameter, grows over a hydrothermal vent in the Pacific Ocean in a region known as the “Pacific Ring of Fire.” The mat helps retain microbial nutrients. Chimneys such as the one indicated by the arrow allow gases to escape. (b) In this micrograph, bacteria are visualized using fluorescence microscopy. (credit a: modification of work by Dr. Bob Embley, NOAA PMEL, Chief Scientist; credit b: modification of work by Ricardo Murga, Rodney Donlan, CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell)


Fossilized microbial mats represent the earliest record of life on Earth. A stromatolite    is a sedimentary structure formed when minerals are precipitated out of water by prokaryotes in a microbial mat ( [link] ). Stromatolites form layered rocks made of carbonate or silicate. Although most stromatolites are artifacts from the past, there are places on Earth where stromatolites are still forming. For example, growing stromatolites have been found in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in San Diego County, California.

 Photo A shows a mass of gray mounds in shallow water. Photo B shows a swirl patter in white and gray marbled rock.
(a) These living stromatolites are located in Shark Bay, Australia. (b) These fossilized stromatolites, found in Glacier National Park, Montana, are nearly 1.5 billion years old. (credit a: Robert Young; credit b: P. Carrara, NPS)

The ancient atmosphere

Evidence indicates that during the first two billion years of Earth’s existence, the atmosphere was anoxic    , meaning that there was no molecular oxygen. Therefore, only those organisms that can grow without oxygen— anaerobic    organisms—were able to live. Autotrophic organisms that convert solar energy into chemical energy are called phototrophs , and they appeared within one billion years of the formation of Earth. Then, cyanobacteria    , also known as blue-green algae, evolved from these simple phototrophs one billion years later. Cyanobacteria ( [link] ) began the oxygenation of the atmosphere. Increased atmospheric oxygen allowed the development of more efficient O 2 -utilizing catabolic pathways. It also opened up the land to increased colonization, because some O 2 is converted into O 3 (ozone) and ozone effectively absorbs the ultraviolet light that would otherwise cause lethal mutations in DNA. Ultimately, the increase in O 2 concentrations allowed the evolution of other life forms.

This photo shows a woman squatting next to a stream of green-colored water.
This hot spring in Yellowstone National Park flows toward the foreground. Cyanobacteria in the spring are green, and as water flows down the gradient, the intensity of the color increases as cell density increases. The water is cooler at the edges of the stream than in the center, causing the edges to appear greener. (credit: Graciela Brelles-Mariño)

Microbes are adaptable: life in moderate and extreme environments

Some organisms have developed strategies that allow them to survive harsh conditions. Prokaryotes thrive in a vast array of environments: Some grow in conditions that would seem very normal to us, whereas others are able to thrive and grow under conditions that would kill a plant or animal. Almost all prokaryotes have a cell wall, a protective structure that allows them to survive in both hyper- and hypo-osmotic conditions. Some soil bacteria are able to form endospores that resist heat and drought, thereby allowing the organism to survive until favorable conditions recur. These adaptations, along with others, allow bacteria to be the most abundant life form in all terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Questions & Answers

What contribute to evolution of eukaryotes
Chiquita Reply
how transpiration occur in aquatic plants
Sajid Reply
what is the study of allelemorph
Faith Reply
what is protein
Majid Reply
any of a class of nitrogenous organic compounds which have large molecules composed of one or more long chains of amino acids and are an essential part of all living organisms, especially as structural components of body tissues such as muscle, hair, etc., and as enzymes and antibodies.
what is DNA replication?
Anirban Reply
separation of the DNA to produce new daughter cell. mostly in the form of meiosis
what is xenia
Mani Reply
can i get a broader difference between inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning
Daniel Reply
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what is signal cascade?
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it is the process by which plants produce their fo
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what are the substrates of this process
definition of photosynthesis
Fiko Reply
it is simply the process by which plants get there food from the sun through the use of chlorophyll
what are the advantages and disadvantages of external and internal fertilization
Mohd Reply
which type of blood group can be tranfer easily after Accidents
Durgesh Reply
O positive cause it is a general donor
It can give to other blood group except O negative that can only get from O negative
which is the polygonum type of embryo sac in angiosperms
Madhura Reply
Describe how hormones regulate blood pressure, blood volume, and kidney function
junius Reply
2 Positive water potential is placed on the left side of the tube by increasing Ψp such that the water level rises on the right side. Could you equalize the water level on each side of the tube by adding solute, and if so, how?
Sarah Reply
where are the enzymes required for electron transport system located
how transpiration occur in aquatic plant

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