A neoproterozoic transition in the marine nitrogen cycle

Patricia Sánchez-Baracaldo (Lead / Corresponding author), Andy Ridgwell, John A. Raven

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    57 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The Neoproterozoic (1000-542 million years ago, Mya) was characterized by profound global environmental and evolutionary changes, not least of which included a major rise in atmospheric oxygen concentrations [1, 2], extreme climatic fluctuations and global-scale glaciation [3], and the emergence of metazoan life in the oceans [4, 5]. We present here phylogenomic (135 proteins and two ribosomal RNAs, SSU and LSU) and relaxed molecular clock (SSU, LSU, and rpoC1) analyses that identify this interval as a key transition in the marine nitrogen cycle. Specifically, we identify the Cryogenian (850-635 Mya) as heralding the first appearance of both marine planktonic unicellular nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria and non-nitrogen-fixing picocyanobacteria (Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus [6]). Our findings are consistent with the existence of open-ocean environmental conditions earlier in the Proterozoic adverse to nitrogen-fixers and their evolution-specifically, insufficient availability of molybdenum and vanadium, elements essential to the production of high-yielding nitrogenases. As these elements became more abundant during the Cryogenian [7, 8], both nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria and planktonic picocyanobacteria diversified. The subsequent emergence of a strong biological pump in the ocean implied by our evolutionary reconstruction may help in explaining increased oxygenation of the Earth's surface at this time, as well as tendency for glaciation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)652-657
    Number of pages6
    JournalCurrent Biology
    Volume24
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2014

    Fingerprint

    Nitrogen Cycle
    Oceans and Seas
    nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria
    Nitrogen
    oceans
    Cyanobacteria
    glaciation
    Prochlorococcus
    Synechococcus
    Nitrogenase
    vanadium
    Vanadium
    Ribosomal RNA
    Molybdenum
    Membrane Transport Proteins
    molybdenum
    nitrogenase
    pumps
    Oxygenation
    ribosomal RNA

    Keywords

    • Aquatic Organisms
    • Biological Evolution
    • Cyanobacteria
    • Molybdenum
    • Nitrogen Cycle
    • Nitrogen Fixation
    • Oceans and Seas
    • Phylogeny
    • Plankton
    • Prochlorococcus
    • Synechococcus

    Cite this

    Sánchez-Baracaldo, P., Ridgwell, A., & Raven, J. A. (2014). A neoproterozoic transition in the marine nitrogen cycle. Current Biology, 24(6), 652-657. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.01.041
    Sánchez-Baracaldo, Patricia ; Ridgwell, Andy ; Raven, John A. / A neoproterozoic transition in the marine nitrogen cycle. In: Current Biology. 2014 ; Vol. 24, No. 6. pp. 652-657.
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    Sánchez-Baracaldo, P, Ridgwell, A & Raven, JA 2014, 'A neoproterozoic transition in the marine nitrogen cycle', Current Biology, vol. 24, no. 6, pp. 652-657. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.01.041

    A neoproterozoic transition in the marine nitrogen cycle. / Sánchez-Baracaldo, Patricia (Lead / Corresponding author); Ridgwell, Andy; Raven, John A.

    In: Current Biology, Vol. 24, No. 6, 17.03.2014, p. 652-657.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - A neoproterozoic transition in the marine nitrogen cycle

    AU - Sánchez-Baracaldo, Patricia

    AU - Ridgwell, Andy

    AU - Raven, John A.

    N1 - Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    PY - 2014/3/17

    Y1 - 2014/3/17

    N2 - The Neoproterozoic (1000-542 million years ago, Mya) was characterized by profound global environmental and evolutionary changes, not least of which included a major rise in atmospheric oxygen concentrations [1, 2], extreme climatic fluctuations and global-scale glaciation [3], and the emergence of metazoan life in the oceans [4, 5]. We present here phylogenomic (135 proteins and two ribosomal RNAs, SSU and LSU) and relaxed molecular clock (SSU, LSU, and rpoC1) analyses that identify this interval as a key transition in the marine nitrogen cycle. Specifically, we identify the Cryogenian (850-635 Mya) as heralding the first appearance of both marine planktonic unicellular nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria and non-nitrogen-fixing picocyanobacteria (Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus [6]). Our findings are consistent with the existence of open-ocean environmental conditions earlier in the Proterozoic adverse to nitrogen-fixers and their evolution-specifically, insufficient availability of molybdenum and vanadium, elements essential to the production of high-yielding nitrogenases. As these elements became more abundant during the Cryogenian [7, 8], both nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria and planktonic picocyanobacteria diversified. The subsequent emergence of a strong biological pump in the ocean implied by our evolutionary reconstruction may help in explaining increased oxygenation of the Earth's surface at this time, as well as tendency for glaciation.

    AB - The Neoproterozoic (1000-542 million years ago, Mya) was characterized by profound global environmental and evolutionary changes, not least of which included a major rise in atmospheric oxygen concentrations [1, 2], extreme climatic fluctuations and global-scale glaciation [3], and the emergence of metazoan life in the oceans [4, 5]. We present here phylogenomic (135 proteins and two ribosomal RNAs, SSU and LSU) and relaxed molecular clock (SSU, LSU, and rpoC1) analyses that identify this interval as a key transition in the marine nitrogen cycle. Specifically, we identify the Cryogenian (850-635 Mya) as heralding the first appearance of both marine planktonic unicellular nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria and non-nitrogen-fixing picocyanobacteria (Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus [6]). Our findings are consistent with the existence of open-ocean environmental conditions earlier in the Proterozoic adverse to nitrogen-fixers and their evolution-specifically, insufficient availability of molybdenum and vanadium, elements essential to the production of high-yielding nitrogenases. As these elements became more abundant during the Cryogenian [7, 8], both nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria and planktonic picocyanobacteria diversified. The subsequent emergence of a strong biological pump in the ocean implied by our evolutionary reconstruction may help in explaining increased oxygenation of the Earth's surface at this time, as well as tendency for glaciation.

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    KW - Biological Evolution

    KW - Cyanobacteria

    KW - Molybdenum

    KW - Nitrogen Cycle

    KW - Nitrogen Fixation

    KW - Oceans and Seas

    KW - Phylogeny

    KW - Plankton

    KW - Prochlorococcus

    KW - Synechococcus

    U2 - 10.1016/j.cub.2014.01.041

    DO - 10.1016/j.cub.2014.01.041

    M3 - Article

    VL - 24

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    EP - 657

    JO - Current Biology

    JF - Current Biology

    SN - 0960-9822

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    ER -

    Sánchez-Baracaldo P, Ridgwell A, Raven JA. A neoproterozoic transition in the marine nitrogen cycle. Current Biology. 2014 Mar 17;24(6):652-657. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.01.041