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The part a photo shows a reddish-yellow mound with small chimneys growing out of it. Part b micrograph shows rod-shaped bacteria about two microns long swimming over a thicker mat of bacteria.
This (a) microbial mat, about one meter in diameter, grows over a hydrothermal vent in the Pacific Ocean in a region known as the “Pacific Ring of Fire.” The mat helps retain microbial nutrients. Chimneys such as the one indicated by the arrow allow gases to escape. (b) In this micrograph, bacteria are visualized using fluorescence microscopy. (credit a: modification of work by Dr. Bob Embley, NOAA PMEL, Chief Scientist; credit b: modification of work by Ricardo Murga, Rodney Donlan, CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell)

Stromatolites

Fossilized microbial mats represent the earliest record of life on Earth. A stromatolite    is a sedimentary structure formed when minerals are precipitated out of water by prokaryotes in a microbial mat ( [link] ). Stromatolites form layered rocks made of carbonate or silicate. Although most stromatolites are artifacts from the past, there are places on Earth where stromatolites are still forming. For example, growing stromatolites have been found in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in San Diego County, California.

 Photo A shows a mass of gray mounds in shallow water. Photo B shows a swirl patter in white and gray marbled rock.
(a) These living stromatolites are located in Shark Bay, Australia. (b) These fossilized stromatolites, found in Glacier National Park, Montana, are nearly 1.5 billion years old. (credit a: Robert Young; credit b: P. Carrara, NPS)

The ancient atmosphere

Evidence indicates that during the first two billion years of Earth’s existence, the atmosphere was anoxic    , meaning that there was no molecular oxygen. Therefore, only those organisms that can grow without oxygen— anaerobic    organisms—were able to live. Autotrophic organisms that convert solar energy into chemical energy are called phototrophs , and they appeared within one billion years of the formation of Earth. Then, cyanobacteria    , also known as blue-green algae, evolved from these simple phototrophs one billion years later. Cyanobacteria ( [link] ) began the oxygenation of the atmosphere. Increased atmospheric oxygen allowed the development of more efficient O 2 -utilizing catabolic pathways. It also opened up the land to increased colonization, because some O 2 is converted into O 3 (ozone) and ozone effectively absorbs the ultraviolet light that would otherwise cause lethal mutations in DNA. Ultimately, the increase in O 2 concentrations allowed the evolution of other life forms.

This photo shows a woman squatting next to a stream of green-colored water.
This hot spring in Yellowstone National Park flows toward the foreground. Cyanobacteria in the spring are green, and as water flows down the gradient, the intensity of the color increases as cell density increases. The water is cooler at the edges of the stream than in the center, causing the edges to appear greener. (credit: Graciela Brelles-Mariño)

Microbes are adaptable: life in moderate and extreme environments

Some organisms have developed strategies that allow them to survive harsh conditions. Prokaryotes thrive in a vast array of environments: Some grow in conditions that would seem very normal to us, whereas others are able to thrive and grow under conditions that would kill a plant or animal. Almost all prokaryotes have a cell wall, a protective structure that allows them to survive in both hyper- and hypo-osmotic conditions. Some soil bacteria are able to form endospores that resist heat and drought, thereby allowing the organism to survive until favorable conditions recur. These adaptations, along with others, allow bacteria to be the most abundant life form in all terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Questions & Answers

what is a cell
Chiko Reply
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FILDA Reply
what is reducing sugar
Erica Reply
in genetics which disease is also termed as the queen disease
Phinihas Reply
what are the types of cell
Teye Reply
prokaryote ,eukaryote, akaryotes
bonney
biology is the study of living organisms
bonney Reply
what are the important of cells in the body
Nharnhar Reply
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Saidu Reply
Is the study of living things
Nharnhar
it is the scientific study of living organisms
Kenneth
ls the study of life and living organisms
Charles
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Mark
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mascuud
is the study of living organisms
Erica
what is diffusion
Lenox Reply
what are the important of ecology?
Lenox
what are the importance of ecology
Foday Reply
double stranded DNA is found in which viruses?
Deborah Reply
Virusws usually dont hsve double strnaded DNA they have a single strand RNA. U should probably check them in gpogle just to be sure
Danisha
what would happen if humans were not multicellular
Grace Reply
ettr
Grace
sorry but no
Grace
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Emmanuel
study of life
Dads
what are types of photosynthesis
Dads
Is there any other type of a eukaryotic cell.
Grace Reply
what is bionomial nomenclature
Rachaelda Reply
state the role of mitochondria
Rachaelda
mitochondria ia power House of the cell. it provides energy and as ATP. Cells energy currency.
Haider
The scientific method of giving short names on the basis of genius and species.
Haider
it is introduce by carlous Lennieus
Haider
it is naming of living organism where by they are given two names one generic and the other specific name
Kenneth
what is element
Kofi Reply
Structure of water molecule and it's biological significance. .....help guys
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Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
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