Asbestos-Quake combo may have helped life evolve on early Earth

May 4th, 2009 - 12:26 pm ICT by ANI  

London, May 4 (ANI): In a new research, scientists have suggested that the unlikely combination of asbestos and earthquakes may have helped life evolve on early Earth.

Sea-floor fissures lined with an asbestos mineral called chrysotile are places where life could have gained a foothold 3.5 billion years ago.

According to a report in New Scientist, to mimic that environment, Naoto Yoshida and Nori Fujiura of the University of Miyazaki in Japan formed a bacterial biofilm on a layer of gum.

They added chrysotile minerals, bacterial DNA molecules called plasmids that had genes for antibiotic resistance, and silica beads representing inert rock.

They then shook the mix for 60 seconds to mimic the low-energy tremors that would have occurred early in Earth’s history.

Afterwards, when antibiotics were added to kill the bacteria, they found that about 1 in 10,000 had picked up the resistance genes.

Such gene transfer “would be sufficient to increase genetic variation and promote evolution”, according to Yoshida.

“It makes sense,” said David Cohen, at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

“The little mineral needles are puncturing the cells and allowing the plasmids in. It’s the same mechanism that punctures lung cells in asbestosis,” he added. (ANI)

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