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In a recently-published study in the journal Nature Microbiology, Professor William Inskeep and his team mates are talking about the very diverse thermal environments found at the Yellowstone National Park and how they could provide some incredible opportunities to study the evolutionary history of our planet. This is mainly due to the habitats there that look very much like how early Earth might have looked like. It’s worth noting that there are three main domains of life that exist: the archaea, the bacteria and the eukaryotes. Bacteria and archaea are single-cell organisms, while the eukaryotes are more complex organisms, like animals, plants, fungi and humans.
In their study, the experts called the newly-discovered archaeal lineage Marsarchaeota, after the planet Mars. They did this because these organisms live in habitats that are very rich in iron oxides. Within the Marsarchaeota lineage they also found two sub-groups that live in Yellowstone and like hot, acidic water. Actually, the water they like to live in is as acidic as grapefruit juice. Inskeep says that the iron minerals that these organisms like are very similar to those that exist on the surface of the Red Planet.
New discovery might be relevant to the origin of life on Earth
At Yellowstone, the team of researchers analyzed certain microbial mats. It seems that the microorganisms in there can create iron oxide. In turn, this creates terraces which are able to block streams. When the water runs over these terraces, the oxygen from the atmosphere reaches the Marsarchaeota.
This research could help researchers understand a lot more about life on early Earth. Apart from this, it could provide details about potential life on Mars as well as helping them understand more about high-temperature biology. The results from this new paper came to be after a decade-long research at Yellowstone National Park.
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