Get 20M+ Full-Text Papers For Less Than $1.50/day. Start a 14-Day Trial for You or Your Team.

Learn More →

The emergence of life from iron monosulphide bubbles at a submarine hydrothermal redox and pH front.

The emergence of life from iron monosulphide bubbles at a submarine hydrothermal redox and pH front. Here we argue that life emerged on Earth from a redox and pH front at c. 4.2 Ga. This front occurred where hot (c. 150 degrees C), extremely reduced, alkaline, bisulphide-bearing, submarine seepage waters interfaced with the acid, warm (c. 90 degrees C), iron-hearing Hadean ocean. The low pH of the ocean was imparted by the ten bars of CO2 considered to dominate the Hadean atmosphere/hydrosphere. Disequilibrium between the two solutions was maintained by the spontaneous precipitation of a colloidal FeS membrane. Iron monosulphide bubbles comprising this membrane were inflated by the hydrothermal solution upon sulphide mounds at the seepage sites. Our hypothesis is that the FeS membrane, laced with nickel, acted as a semipermeable catalytic boundary between the two fluids, encouraging synthesis of organic anions by hydrogenation and carboxylation of hydrothermal organic primers. The ocean provided carbonate, phosphate, iron, nickel and protons; the hydrothermal solution was the source of ammonia, acetate, HS-, H2 and tungsten, as well as minor concentrations of organic sulphides and perhaps cyanide and acetaldehyde. The mean redox potential (delta Eh) across the membrane, with the energy to drive synthesis, would have approximated to 300 millivolts. The generation of organic anions would have led to an increase in osmotic pressure within the FeS bubbles. Thus osmotic pressure could take over from hydraulic pressure as the driving force for distension, budding and reproduction of the bubbles. Condensation of the organic molecules to polymers, particularly organic sulphides, was driven by pyrophosphate hydrolysis. Regeneration of pyrophosphate from the monophosphate in the membrane was facilitated by protons contributed from the Hadean ocean. This was the first use by a metabolizing system of protonmotive force (driven by natural delta pH) which also would have amounted to c. 300 millivolts. Protonmotive force is the universal energy transduction mechanism of life. Taken together with the redox potential across the membrane, the total electrochemical and chemical energy available for protometabolism amounted to a continuous supply at more than half a volt. The role of the iron sulphide membrane in keeping the two solutions separated was appropriated by the newly synthesized organic sulphide polymers. This organic take-over of the membrane material led to the miniaturization of the metabolizing system. Information systems to govern replication could have developed penecontemporaneously in this same milieu. But iron, sulphur and phosphate, inorganic components of earliest life, continued to be involved in metabolism. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the Geological Society Pubmed

The emergence of life from iron monosulphide bubbles at a submarine hydrothermal redox and pH front.

Journal of the Geological Society , Volume 154 (3): 26 – Dec 5, 1998

The emergence of life from iron monosulphide bubbles at a submarine hydrothermal redox and pH front.


Abstract

Here we argue that life emerged on Earth from a redox and pH front at c. 4.2 Ga. This front occurred where hot (c. 150 degrees C), extremely reduced, alkaline, bisulphide-bearing, submarine seepage waters interfaced with the acid, warm (c. 90 degrees C), iron-hearing Hadean ocean. The low pH of the ocean was imparted by the ten bars of CO2 considered to dominate the Hadean atmosphere/hydrosphere. Disequilibrium between the two solutions was maintained by the spontaneous precipitation of a colloidal FeS membrane. Iron monosulphide bubbles comprising this membrane were inflated by the hydrothermal solution upon sulphide mounds at the seepage sites. Our hypothesis is that the FeS membrane, laced with nickel, acted as a semipermeable catalytic boundary between the two fluids, encouraging synthesis of organic anions by hydrogenation and carboxylation of hydrothermal organic primers. The ocean provided carbonate, phosphate, iron, nickel and protons; the hydrothermal solution was the source of ammonia, acetate, HS-, H2 and tungsten, as well as minor concentrations of organic sulphides and perhaps cyanide and acetaldehyde. The mean redox potential (delta Eh) across the membrane, with the energy to drive synthesis, would have approximated to 300 millivolts. The generation of organic anions would have led to an increase in osmotic pressure within the FeS bubbles. Thus osmotic pressure could take over from hydraulic pressure as the driving force for distension, budding and reproduction of the bubbles. Condensation of the organic molecules to polymers, particularly organic sulphides, was driven by pyrophosphate hydrolysis. Regeneration of pyrophosphate from the monophosphate in the membrane was facilitated by protons contributed from the Hadean ocean. This was the first use by a metabolizing system of protonmotive force (driven by natural delta pH) which also would have amounted to c. 300 millivolts. Protonmotive force is the universal energy transduction mechanism of life. Taken together with the redox potential across the membrane, the total electrochemical and chemical energy available for protometabolism amounted to a continuous supply at more than half a volt. The role of the iron sulphide membrane in keeping the two solutions separated was appropriated by the newly synthesized organic sulphide polymers. This organic take-over of the membrane material led to the miniaturization of the metabolizing system. Information systems to govern replication could have developed penecontemporaneously in this same milieu. But iron, sulphur and phosphate, inorganic components of earliest life, continued to be involved in metabolism.

Loading next page...
 
/lp/pubmed/the-emergence-of-life-from-iron-monosulphide-bubbles-at-a-submarine-b0e6aFXf08

References

References for this paper are not available at this time. We will be adding them shortly, thank you for your patience.

ISSN
0016-7649
DOI
10.1144/gsjgs.154.3.0377
pmid
11541234

Abstract

Here we argue that life emerged on Earth from a redox and pH front at c. 4.2 Ga. This front occurred where hot (c. 150 degrees C), extremely reduced, alkaline, bisulphide-bearing, submarine seepage waters interfaced with the acid, warm (c. 90 degrees C), iron-hearing Hadean ocean. The low pH of the ocean was imparted by the ten bars of CO2 considered to dominate the Hadean atmosphere/hydrosphere. Disequilibrium between the two solutions was maintained by the spontaneous precipitation of a colloidal FeS membrane. Iron monosulphide bubbles comprising this membrane were inflated by the hydrothermal solution upon sulphide mounds at the seepage sites. Our hypothesis is that the FeS membrane, laced with nickel, acted as a semipermeable catalytic boundary between the two fluids, encouraging synthesis of organic anions by hydrogenation and carboxylation of hydrothermal organic primers. The ocean provided carbonate, phosphate, iron, nickel and protons; the hydrothermal solution was the source of ammonia, acetate, HS-, H2 and tungsten, as well as minor concentrations of organic sulphides and perhaps cyanide and acetaldehyde. The mean redox potential (delta Eh) across the membrane, with the energy to drive synthesis, would have approximated to 300 millivolts. The generation of organic anions would have led to an increase in osmotic pressure within the FeS bubbles. Thus osmotic pressure could take over from hydraulic pressure as the driving force for distension, budding and reproduction of the bubbles. Condensation of the organic molecules to polymers, particularly organic sulphides, was driven by pyrophosphate hydrolysis. Regeneration of pyrophosphate from the monophosphate in the membrane was facilitated by protons contributed from the Hadean ocean. This was the first use by a metabolizing system of protonmotive force (driven by natural delta pH) which also would have amounted to c. 300 millivolts. Protonmotive force is the universal energy transduction mechanism of life. Taken together with the redox potential across the membrane, the total electrochemical and chemical energy available for protometabolism amounted to a continuous supply at more than half a volt. The role of the iron sulphide membrane in keeping the two solutions separated was appropriated by the newly synthesized organic sulphide polymers. This organic take-over of the membrane material led to the miniaturization of the metabolizing system. Information systems to govern replication could have developed penecontemporaneously in this same milieu. But iron, sulphur and phosphate, inorganic components of earliest life, continued to be involved in metabolism.

Journal

Journal of the Geological SocietyPubmed

Published: Dec 5, 1998

There are no references for this article.