The rise of algae in Cryogenian oceans and the emergence of animals

11:02 EDT 17 Aug 2017 | Nature Publishing

The transition from dominant bacterial to eukaryotic marine primary productivity was one of the most profound ecological revolutions in the Earth’s history, reorganizing the distribution of carbon and nutrients in the water column and increasing energy flow to higher trophic levels. But the causes and geological timing of this transition, as well as possible links with rising atmospheric oxygen levels and the evolution of animals, remain obscure. Here we present a molecular fossil record of eukaryotic steroids demonstrating that bacteria were the only notable primary producers in the oceans before the Cryogenian period (720–635 million years ago). Increasing steroid diversity and abundance marks the rapid rise of marine planktonic algae (Archaeplastida) in the narrow time interval between the Sturtian and Marinoan ‘snowball Earth’ glaciations, 659–645 million years ago. We propose that the incumbency of cyanobacteria was broken by a surge of nutrients supplied by the Sturtian deglaciation. The ‘Rise of Algae’ created food webs with more efficient nutrient and energy transfers, driving ecosystems towards larger and increasingly complex organisms. This effect is recorded by the concomitant appearance of biomarkers for sponges and predatory rhizarians, and the subsequent radiation of eumetazoans in the Ediacaran period.

Original Article: The rise of algae in Cryogenian oceans and the emergence of animals


More From BioPortfolio on "The rise of algae in Cryogenian oceans and the emergence of animals"

Quick Search


Relevant Topics

Within medicine, nutrition (the study of food and the effect of its components on the body) has many different roles. Appropriate nutrition can help prevent certain diseases, or treat others. In critically ill patients, artificial feeding by tubes need t...

Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism ...