Navigation Links
Ancient organisms discovered in Canadian gold mine

Scientists have suspected that the three known domains of life -- eukaryotes, bacteria, and archaea -- branched off and went their separate ways around three billion years ago. But pinning down the time of that split has been an elusive task.

Now, a team of scientists present direct evidence that the three domains of life coexisted at least as long as 2.7 billion years ago.

The discovery came from chemical examination of shale samples, loaded with oily lipid remains of archaea found in a deep Canadian gold mine near Timmins, Ontario, about 400 miles north of Toronto.

Details are reported in the August 20-24 early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Fabien Kenig, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and his former doctoral student Gregory Ventura, spent nearly five years carefully analyzing the shale samples, originally to compare what they found with an earlier Australian study suggesting the presence of eukaryotes some 2.7 billion years ago.

Ventura, now a post-doctoral researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said initial laboratory results stunned him. "I thought there was something very wrong, that the samples were contaminated," he said.

But Kenig was more confident they were on to something significant.

They didn't learn the true value of the material until it was analyzed using a sophisticated, multi-dimensional gas chromatography instrument at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

When they analyzed a sample, Kenig said, they were able to pull apart its complex mixture of molecular fossils, and found it was "essentially made of archaea-derived lipids."

The archaea lived in water and sediments when the region was covered by the sea. After burial, the archaea thrived where very hot water circulated in the rocks and where gold was deposited. Later, shale containing fossilized archaea got buried under thousands of feet of volcanic rock and sediments.

The researchers studied shale samples using a scanning electron microscope. They also analyzed rock formation, mineral deposits and molecular fossils. Findings led the researchers to conclude that archaea and the other two life domains coexisted.

"Now we are sure the three domains of life were well separated and evolving (independently) by 2.7 billion years ago," said Kenig.

The finding broadens the known geographic reach of archaea during this time period, adding proof that the ancient organisms existed both in sedimentary environments and in subsurface hydrothermal settings.

"Considering the extent and composition of today's deep biosphere, it is likely that such hydrothermal subsurface communities have existed for much of the Earth's history," Ventura and Kenig write.

Contact: Paul Francuch
University of Illinois at Chicago

Related biology news :

1. Ancient olfaction protein is shared by many bugs, offering new pest control target
2. Researchers find missing genes of ancient organism
3. Family trees of ancient bacteria reveal evolutionary moves
4. Scientists find fossil proof of Egypts ancient climate
5. U-M team recovers ancient whale in Egyptian desert
6. Ancient immune defense mechanism is no match for HIV-1
7. Ancient DNA helps clarify the origins of two extinct New World horse species
8. Deep sea algae connect ancient climate, carbon dioxide and vegetation
9. Analysis of flower genes reveals the fate of an ancient gene duplication
10. Researchers Discover Ancient Origins Of Tuberculosis-causing Bacteria
11. Ancient DNA confirms single origin of Malagasy primates
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/22/2016)... 22, 2016  The American College of Medical Genetics and ... Magazine as one of the fastest-growing trade shows during ... the Bellagio in Las Vegas . ... of growth in each of the following categories: net square ... number of attendees. The 2015 ACMG Annual Meeting was ranked ...
(Date:6/20/2016)... June 20, 2016 Securus Technologies, a ... solutions for public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring ... involved, it has secured the final acceptance by ... for Managed Access Systems (MAS) installed. Furthermore, Securus ... to be installed by October, 2016. MAS distinguishes ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... 2016 Paris Police Prefecture ... security solution to ensure the safety of people and operations ... the major tournament Teleste, an international technology group ... announced today that its video security solution will be utilised ... up public safety across the country. The system roll-out is ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has announced the creation of ... company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" or "the Company"), ... portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors for the treatment ... represent an exciting class of therapies, possessing the ... cancer patients. Substantial advances have been achieved with ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has ... Association to serve as their official health care ... Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, athletic training services, ... coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. "We ... Association and to bring Houston Methodist quality services ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is pleased to announce 24 new Young ... cancer. Members of the Class of 2016 were selected from a pool of ... More About the Class of 2016 PCF Young Investigators ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016   EpiBiome , ... secured $1 million in debt financing from Silicon Valley ... up automation and to advance its drug development efforts, ... new facility. "SVB has been an incredible ... the services a traditional bank would provide," said Dr. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: