Title: Ironing out Life’s First Breaths
Every cell contains a biochemical record of four billion years of Earth-life coevolution. Our mitochondria were once free-living bacteria. Each unit of the electron transport chain that we use to breathe oxygen was borrowed from older microbial machinery. Aerobic respiration is a medley of pieces of older anaerobic respiratory pathways such as methanogenesis, anoxygenic photosynthesis, and iron oxidation. Yet we have barely begun to chart the vast landscape of myriad microbial metabolisms. In this talk, I will describe how dissecting the molecular machines of modern microbes can give us glimpses of the early Earth environments that supported life’s first breaths.
Watch the livestream.