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Astrobio Week 1 Notes

by: Andrea Lans

Astrobio Week 1 Notes EPSS 3

Andrea Lans
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These notes cover lectures 1-3 . Topics include The Origin of Life on Earth and The First Biogeochemical Processes on Earth.
Tina Treude, Jean-Luc Margot
Class Notes




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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Andrea Lans on Sunday October 9, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to EPSS 3 at University of California - Los Angeles taught by Tina Treude, Jean-Luc Margot in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 82 views. For similar materials see Astrobiology in EPSS at University of California - Los Angeles.


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Date Created: 10/09/16
Lecture 1: Intro Definition of Life - Requirements • Chemistry- complex molecules • Solvent- water • Substrate- solid surface • Energy- near a star • Time- stable environment Studies of ribosomal RNA —> all life on Earth is related • - Properties: order, reproduction, growth & development, energy utilization, response to environment, evolutionary adaptation - Working definition: Life can reproduce & evolve through natural selection; is a self-replicating chemical system capable of evolving such that offspring are better off - Astrobiology: study of origin of life & fate of the Universe Lecture 2: Origin of Life on Earth Fundamental Pieces of Chemistry - Atoms, elements, isotopes, ions, molecules • Cation (loss of e, +) vs Anion (-) - 4 important biomolecules: proteins, lipids, carbs, nucleic acids - Life on Earth is Carbon-based • C can bond to itself, form long chains and rings, single/double/triple bonds CO2 dissolves in H2O to concentrations sufficient for organisms to use CO2 as a carbon • source - Electron transfers —> energy • REDOX reactions (reduction & oxidation)- electron transfer - Oxygen reduced, carbs oxidated (O2 + food —> Co2 + H2O) • O2 accepts e (reduced), food donates e Energy stored as ATP • - Chemiosmosis: process of generating ATP - ATP is product of metabolism - Water is a good solvent • High range of stable liquid temperatures • Less dense as a solid (ice floats) • High heat capacity • H & O are abundant • High molar density (good for assembly of lipids, proteins, acids) Life Development - Biomolecules: 1. Carbs- energy & structure 2. Amino Acids/Proteins- enzymes & structural molecules 3. Nucleic Acids- RNA & DNA 4. Lipids- fat for energy storage; amphiphilic & form bilayers - Earth habitable: liquid water, energy source (sunlight), renewable supply of essential chemical elements, interface of solids, liquids, solids - Autotroph: CO2; converts CO2 to organic carbon • Photoautotroph- sunlight for energy, acquire CO2 from air; plants, algae, cyanobacteria • Chemoautotroph- inorganic chemicals to make energy; deep-sea microbes - Heterotroph: consume organic carbon compounds (sugar); acquire food to get energy • Photoheterotroph- sunlight for energy, carbon from organic compounds; photosynthetic bacteria • Chemoheterotroph- organic compounds; humans, fungi, some microbes - Domains of life: bacteria, archaea (both prokarya), eukarya Prokaryote: no membrane around genetic material (no nucleus); microbial • • Eukaryote: cells contain nucleus with genetic material within membranes; can be multicellular • Geologic Time: prokaryotes, eukaryotes, multicellular life - Before Life: The Hades - • Formation of rock, oceans, anoxic atmosphere • Water originated from degassing hydrated minerals • Salinity 2x as high as today Magma & meteoroid impacts “cooked” oceans & evaporated water • - Rise of Life: The Archaean - • Formation of small continents • Reduced atmosphere, water present, temp. lower than today • First life (fossils of stromatolithes) - Prebiotic chemistry- Darwin concluded organisms are continually eating the chemical compounds needed to evolve & survive (chemical evolution) - Theories: • Origin of organic molecules (Carbon): 1. Miller-Urey experiment: formation of organic molecules through electrical discharge - Primordial soup: ocean that contained organic molecules from which life could’ve formed; meteoroids involved in formation 2. Intro of organic molecules from meteoroid impacts (outer space) 3. Surface reactions in deep sea hydrothermal vents- amino acids converted into peptides at hot surfaces of hydrothermal systems • From organic molecules to protocells: How life looked before 1st protocell 1. RNA (self replicating genetic material) first - Genetic info stored in RNA which evolved into DNA (greater stability) and protein (specialized catalytic molecules) 2. Metabolism first: surface metabolism- early production of energy occurred on miners surfaces near deep hydrothermal vents - Wachtershauser method of protein production: acetic acid from metallic ion catalysis, add carbon (pyruvic acid), add ammonia (amino acids)—> produce peptides & then proteins 3. Lipids (membranes) first- information storage, inheritance, selection - Amphiphilic molecules (one end hydrophilic, one end hydrophobic) allows self- assembly into vesicles & bilayers - Later incorporated RNA & reactions - Compositional inheritance Lecture 3: Development of 1st Biogeochemical Cycles on Earth Metabolism - Metabolism: life-sustaining chemical transformations within cells • Enzyme-catalyzed reactions allow organisms to grow/reproduce, maintain structures, respond to environments • Enzymes: proteins that catalyze/speed up reactions without being changed • Animals simple in metabolism (aerobic respiration), microbes diverse in metabolism Microbial Isotope Fractionation - Isotopes differ in weight (different # of neutrons) - Enzyme activity faster w/molecules made of lighter isotopes - Kinetic Isotopic Effect (KIE): organisms use lighter isotopic molecules because of lower energy costs; result in fractionations between substrate (heaver) & biologically mediated product (lighter) Isotopes used in ATP: Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Sulfur • Conditions During Development of Biogeochemical Cycles (Archaean) - Early Earth had higher heat production due to more radioactive elements - Hotter mantle sourced more plume volcanoes w/komatiite lava flows less viscous than basalt (flowed larger distances) • Hydrothermal systems from komatiite lava very alkaline (high pH) due to high Mg content • Sediments scarce & Mg rich - Atmosphere reduced w/only traces of O - During Archaean, word covered by microbial mats - Redox contrasts driven by: 1. Photolysis in atmosphere/ocean 2. Magmatic interactions on seafloor 3. H emitted from terrestrial serpentinization when water reached hot ultramafic (komatiite) rock First Metabolisms 1. Photosynthesis: metabolisms using light; could have formed via thermotaxis • Oldest record of life: cyanobacterias stromatolite fossils are products of photosynthesis 2. Methanogenesis: metabolisms using Hydrogen; through water/rock reactions at high temps, H formed to be exploited by microbes; produce methane 3. Sulfate Reductions: oxidize H while reducing Sulfate; breathe sulfate (anaerobic respiration) 4. Knallgas: metabolism using Hydrogen & Oxygen 5. Metabolisms using reduced Carbon & Nitrogen- anaerobic oxidation of methane & ammonium - All started at hydrothermal systems First Oxygen - First oxygen produced from photosynthesis didn’t accumulate, but reacted w/reduced compounds (reduced iron); redox reactions - Great Oxidation Event (GOE): appearance of free O2 in atmosphere 2400 million yrs. ago; readily oxidizable minerals no longer available & O2 accumulated • Tendency to radicalize forming highly potent oxidants that cause genetic degeneration & physiological dysfunction Superoxide Dismutase (SOD): catalyzes dismutation of superoxide into oxygen & hydrogen • peroxide; antioxidant defense • When oxygen accumulated, organisms had to adapt to aggressive nature or avoid it (obligate anaerobes)


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