THE PREBIOTIC EVOLUTION OF REDOX CHEMISTRY ON EARTH

Project Details

Description

The primary goal of the research is to develop preliminary data that address a key hypothesis about the evolution of redox reactions far from thermodynamic equilibrium. In this project, the investigators will provide both experimental data and develop computational analyses to test a key hypothesis: that the abiotic reduction of N could proceed absent life via a light catalyzed oxidation of ferrous iron. If this hypothesis can be supported, it would potentially explain how iron-sulfur complexes became stably incorporated in core metabolic enzymes, such as nitrogenase, while simultaneously providing an alternative hypothesis accounting for banded iron formations at 3.8 billion years before present (Ga). This high-risk, basic research project will provide both experimental and computational evidence for understanding the evolution of core metabolic complexes that were essential to the evolution of life on Earth. BROADER IMPACTSThe project will educate and train one graduate student and one post-doctoral fellow. The post-doctoral fellow will be team mentored and supported, with a goal of preparing him/her to develop their own, independent research program. In addition, the project scientists are strongly involved in working with local K-12 school systems in New Jersey and providing information about evolution of life through public lectures and outreach using the Liberty Science Center and the NSF-sponsored Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence Mid Atlantic (COSEE MA; www.cosee-ma.net).
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date7/15/096/30/12

Funding

  • National Science Foundation (National Science Foundation (NSF))

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