Scientists have discovered “ingredients for life” in rocks that are 3.5 billion years old in Australia


Researchers have discovered organic molecules trapped in incredibly ancient rock formations in Australia, revealing what they believe is the first detailed evidence of early chemical components that could support Earth’s primitive microbial life forms.

 The  discovery was made in 3.5 billion years of Training Training Western Australia Pilbara Kraton, complements a large body of research pointing to ancient life in this part of the world – the one of only two exposed deposits of virgin earth on earth which date back to the year Archian Eon.

In recent years, the hydrothermal rocks of the Dresser Formation have repeatedly given clues to the oldest known life on Earth, as scientists discovered “definitive evidence” of microbial biosignatures 3.5 billion years ago.

Now in New Study in Germany, researchers have identified traces of a particular chemistry that could enable the existence of such primitive organisms, and in doing so, they found the biologically relevant organic molecules. Barite sediments, which are a mineral formed by various processes including hydrothermal phenomena.

“In this area, barite is directly related to the petrified microbial mats and they smell like rotten eggs when they are freshly scratched.” He explains geologist Helge Mesbach from the University of Cologne in Germany.

“We therefore suspected that it contained organic matter that could have served as nutrients for early microbial life.”

Barite from the Treasury Formation. (Helge Mesbach)

While scientists have long assumed how organic molecules might function as substrates for primordial microbes and their metabolic processes, direct evidence so far has proven largely elusive.

To check this, Missbach and his co-researchers examined impurities in the barite of the Dresser Formation, the mineral being chemically stable and able to preserve liquids and gases in rocks for billions of years.

Use a number of techniques to analyze barite samples – including gas chromatography, and the micrometer, the researchers found that analyzing stable isotopes of what they describe is “an interesting variety of known or suspected metabolically related organic molecules”.

Among these were organic compounds acetic acid, and the methanethiol, along with many of them hydrogen sulfide, it can have vital or abiotic assets.

010 organic chest of drawers 2(Meisbach et al., Nature Communications, 2021)

Above: barite rock, which indicates a close association with stromatolites.

While it may be impossible to determine the exact bonds, the proximity to these impurities within the barite rock and adjacent organic aggregates is called stromatolites, which suggests that ancient chemicals found in hydrothermal fluids may have affected primitive microbial communities.

“In fact, many of the compounds discovered in liquid contaminants from barite would have provided ideal substrates for the sulfur-based and methanogen-based microbes previously suggested as actors in the dresser environment,” said the researchers entering their studies.

In addition to chemicals that can act as nutrients or substrates, other compounds in contaminants can act as “building blocks” for many carbon-based chemical reactions – the processes that can trigger microbial metabolism by producing energy sources such as fats. that can be broken down by life forms.

“In other words, the basic components of methylthioacetate, a proposed critical factor in the creation of life, were available in dresser environments.” ©

 The  team explains.


 The y may have transferred the building blocks for chemical carbon fixation and thus absorbed the anabolic carbon into the biomass.”


 The  results are given in Communication with nature.

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Scientists discovered ingredients life rocks billion years Australia


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