Geosphere and Biosphere coevolution: the role of trace metals availability in the evolution of biogeochemistry

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Donato Giovannelli


Earth’s geosphere and biosphere have coevolved over time, influencing each other’s stability and keeping our planet habitable for most of its 4.543 billion years of history. Biogeochemical cycles play a key role in controlling this interaction, connecting long-term geological cycles and the much faster evolution of the Earth’s outer biologically dominated envelopes. A small set of microbial-encoded proteins containing redox-sensitive transition metals as their core catalytic center carry out the majority of the key biogeochemical reactions. Metals such as Fe, Co, Ni, Zn, Mo, W, V, and Cu are used in these proteins to access diverse redox couples as a function of the changing planetary availability of these elements over time. Despite the importance of this process, the relationship between metal availability and metabolism evolution and diversity has not been investigated in detail. I pose that elucidating the impact of transition metal availability on microbial functional diversity holds the key to understanding the co-evolution of life and our planet, potentially unlocking a number of important discoveries at the core of diverse fields such as earth sciences, astrobiology, microbial ecology, and biotechnology.



Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology, Biogeochemistry, Earth Sciences, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Microbiology, Planetary Sciences


metabolism, evolution, biogeochemistry, Trace Metals, geosphere-biosphere coevolution


Published: 2022-11-21 07:46


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:

Data Availability (Reason not available):
No data have been produced for this study.