Earth Sciences Division (ESD) Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)

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Key Photosynthesis Process Developed Before Oxygen

Source:  LBNL TABL

Scientists studying methane-producing microbes, like the ones found in deep-sea hydrothermal vents (pictured here), discovered that a process critical to contemporary photosynthesis likely developed on Earth long before oxygen became available. (Photo by Chris German, courtesy of NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory)

ESD’s Bob Buchanan was part of a team of researchers who recently discovered that a regulatory process activating photosynthesis in plants developed in ancient microbes long before oxygen was available on Earth. This finding sheds light on the contemporary production of natural gas, with implications for climate change, agricultural production, and human health.

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Susanti, D., J.H. Wong, W.H. Vensel, U. Loganathan, R. DeSantis, R.A. Schmitz, M. Balsera, B.B. Buchanan, and B. Mukhopadhyay (2014), Thioredoxin targets fundamental processes in a methane-producing archaeon, Methanocaldococcus jannaschii. Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1324240111.