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:6/23/2017)... N.Y. and ITHACA, N.Y. ... ) and Cornell University, a leader in dairy research, ... with bioinformatics designed to help reduce the chances that ... With the onset of this dairy project, Cornell University ... Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain, a food ...
(Date:5/23/2017)...  Hunova, the first robotic gym for the rehabilitation and functional motor ... Genoa, Italy . The first 30 robots will be ... USA . The technology was developed and patented at the ... spin-off Movendo Technology thanks to a 10 million euro investment from entrepreneur ... ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... DALLAS , May 16, 2017   ... for health organizations, and MD EMR Systems ... certified development partner for GE, have established a ... Patient Portal product and the GE Centricity™ products, ... Centricity EMR. These new integrations ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... ComplianceOnline’s Medical Device Summit is back for ... June 2018 in San Francisco, CA. The Summit brings together current and former FDA ... board directors and government officials from around the world to address key issues in ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... a leading provider of patient support solutions, has announced the ... which will launch this week. The VMS CNEs will address ... enhance the patient care experience by delivering peer-to-peer education programs ... to help women who have been diagnosed and are being ... ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... ... Disappearing forests and increased emissions are the main causes of the evolving ... those living in larger cities are affected by air pollution related diseases. , That ... countries globally - decided to take action. , “I knew I had to take ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Singh ... orphan drug designation to SBT-100, its novel anti-STAT3 (Signal Transducer and Activator of ... SBT-100 is able to cross the cell membrane and bind intracellular STAT3 and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: