Navigation Links
UGA researchers shed light on ancient origin of life
Date:3/7/2013

Athens, Ga. University of Georgia researchers discovered important genetic clues about the history of microorganisms called archaea and the origins of life itself in the first ever study of its kind. Results of their study shed light on one of Earth's oldest life forms.

"Archaea are an ancient form of microorganisms, so everything we can learn about them could help us to answer questions about the origin of life," said William Whitman, a microbiology professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and co-author on the paper.

Felipe Sarmiento, lead author and doctoral student in the microbiology department, surveyed 1,779 genes found in the genome of Methanococcus maripaludis, aquatic archaea commonly found in sea marshes, to determine if they were essential or not and learn more about their functions. He found that roughly 30 percent, or 526 genes, were essential. We now know which genes are driving the most important functions of the cell. The results of the study were published March 4 in the PNAS Early Edition and were performed with Jan Mrzek, an associate professor in the department of microbiology and the UGA Institute of Bioinformatics.

Although archaea are relatively simple organisms, the genetic systems they use to build cellular life are similar to those of more complicated eukaryotic cells found in complex organisms including animals and plants. For this reason, many scientists believe that eukaryotes evolved from ancient archaea.

These genetic systems are what allow information coded on DNA to build life.

"DNA by itself is a rock," Whitman said. "You need all these other systems to make the DNA become a living cell."

Because DNA is so fundamental to the modern cell, DNA synthesis has long been thought to be one of the most conserved processes in living organisms.

"It was a surprise when this study found that the system for making DNA was unique to the archaea," Whitman said. "Learning that it can change in the archaea suggest that ability to make DNA formed late in the evolution of life. Possibly, there may be unrecognized differences in DNA biosynthesis the eukaryotes or bacteria as well."

Other essential genes in these archaea are necessary for methane production. Methanogensis, or the process of making methane gas, is how these microorganisms make energy for life.

"Humans burn glucose and reduce oxygen to water, these guys burn hydrogen gas and reduce CO2 to methane," Whitman explained.

Methanogenesis requires six vitamins not commonly found in other organisms. Understanding how these vitamins are made and how they are involved in the process of changing carbon dioxide to methane sheds light on developing new and better processes for methane production for fuel.

"This was a general investigation, but there are many questions it can answer, like possibly making methane better or more efficiently," Whitman said.

The study yielded many other important results.

"We found 121 proteins that are essential for this organism that we know nothing about," Sarmiento said. "This finding asks questions about their functions and the specific roles that they are playing."

"We are starting to get some insights about how this organism was actually formed," Sarmiento said. "There is a lot of information and it is interesting because it gives insights into a complete domain of life."


'/>"/>
Contact: William Whitman
whitman@uga.edu
706-542-4219
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Researchers discover workings of brains GPS system
2. Researchers propose new solution to ensure biofuel plants dont become noxious weeds
3. Temple researchers discover key to heart failure, new therapies on horizon
4. Researchers discover gene that causes obesity in mice
5. U of M researchers utilize genetically corrected stem cells to spark muscle regeneration
6. Researchers id queens, mysterious disease syndrome as key factors in bee colony deaths
7. Study led by NUS researchers proves the existence of 3 overstretched DNA structures
8. U of M researchers identify genetic variation behind acute myeloid leukemia treatment success
9. 3 Johns Hopkins researchers recognized for medical inventions
10. University of Alberta researchers bake a better loaf of bread
11. Researchers at IRB Barcelona discover a general mechanism that accelerates tumor development
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/3/2016)... , February 3, 2016 ... new market research report "Automated Fingerprint Identification System Market ... Latent Search), Application (Banking & Finance, Government, Healthcare, and ... by MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected to be worth ... of 21.0% between 2015 and 2020. The transformation and ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... This BCC Research report provides a ... the recent advances in high throughput ‘omic platforms ... forward. Includes forecast through 2019. Use ... opportunities that exist in the bioinformatic market. Analyze ... well as IT and bioinformatics service providers. Analyze ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... 2, 2016  Based on its recent analysis ... recognizes US-based Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems (IRIS) with ... for New Product Innovation. IRIS, a prominent cloud-based ... America , is poised to set the ... retinopathy market. The IRIS technology presents superior price-performance ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/4/2016)... , February 4, 2016 ... a biotechnology acceleration company is pleased to provide the following ... --> Over the last 3 months we have ... securities purchase agreements exceeding $1,000,000. As a result, we have ... Mannin Research Inc. license agreement and expect that development to ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... Md. , Feb. 4, 2016  Spherix Incorporated ... to the fostering and monetization of intellectual property, today ... and Uniden in the Northern District of ... moving forward.  Inter Partes Re-examination ... U.S. Patent Office.  The IPR was initiated on only ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... ... February 04, 2016 , ... ... leading supplier of Semantic Graph Database technology has been recognized As “ Best ... by Corporate America Magazine. , “At Corporate America, it’s our priority to showcase ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... ... February 04, 2016 , ... Many of the engineers at FireflySci, Inc. ... What sets them apart from other cuvette manufacturers is their supercharged customer service and ... On top of this steady flow of inside information, they have recently revamped their ...
Breaking Biology Technology: