Advertisement

Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 327–345 | Cite as

Submarine hydrothermal vents and associated gradient environments as sites for the origin and evolution of life

  • John A. Baross
  • Sarah E. Hoffman
Life On Earth

Abstract

Submarine hydrothermal vents are the only comtemporary geological environment which may be called truly primeval; they continue to be a major source of gases and dissolved elements to the modern ocean as they were to the Archean ocean. Then, as now, they encompassed a multiplicity of physical and chemical gradients as a direct result of interactions between extensive hydrothermal activity in the Earth's crust and the overlying oceanic and atmospheric environments. We have proposed that these gradients provided the necessary multiple pathways for the abiotic synthesis of chemical compounds, origin and evolution of ‘precells’ and ‘precell’ communities and, ultimately, the evolution of free-living organisms. This hypothesis is consistent with the tectonic, paleontological, and degassing history of the earth and with the use of thermal energy sources in the laboratory to synthesize amino acids and complex organic compounds. In this paper, we expand upon the geophysical, chemical, and possible microbiological analogies between contemporary and Archean hydrothermal systems and suggest several hypotheses, related to our model for the origin and evolution of life at Archean vents, which can be tested in present-day hydrothermal systems.

Keywords

Geochemistry Thermal Energy Gradient Environment Hydrothermal System Multiple Pathway 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abbott, D. and Hoffman, S.: 1984,Tectonics 3, 429.Google Scholar
  2. Awramik, S. M. and Barghoorn, E. S.: 1977,Precambrian Res. 5, 121.Google Scholar
  3. Barghoorn, E. S. and Tyler, S. A.: 1965,Science 174, 563.Google Scholar
  4. Baross, J. A. and Deming, J. W.: 1983,Nature 303, 423.Google Scholar
  5. Baross, J. A. and Deming, J. W.: 1985, in M. Jones (ed.),The Hydrothermal Vents of the Eastern Pacific — An Overview, Bull. Biological Soc. Wash. (in press).Google Scholar
  6. Baross, J. A., Deming, J. W., and Becker, R. R.: 1984, in M. J. Klug and C. A. Reddy (eds.),Current Perspectives in Microbial Ecology, American Society for Microbiology, Washington, D.C., p. 186.Google Scholar
  7. Baross, J. A., Lilley, M. D., and Gordon, L. I.: 1982a,Nature 298, 366.Google Scholar
  8. Baross, J. A., Dahm, C. N., Ward, A. K., Lilley, M. D., and Sedell, J. R.: 1982b,Nature 296, 49.Google Scholar
  9. Berry, W. B. N. and Wilde, P.: 1983,Geology 11, 147.Google Scholar
  10. Bickle, M. J.: 1978,Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 40, 301.Google Scholar
  11. Brock, T. D.: 1978,Thermophilic Microorganisms and Life at High Temperatures, Springer, New York, p. 465.Google Scholar
  12. Caldwell, D. E. and Caldwell, S. J.: 1980,Geomicrobiol. J. 2, 39.Google Scholar
  13. Cavanaugh, C. M., Gardiner, S. L., Jones, M. L., Jannasch, H. W., and Waterbury, J. B.: 1981,Science 213, 340.Google Scholar
  14. Corliss, J. B., Baross, J. A., and Hoffman, S. E.: 1980,Oregon State University Oceanography Spec. Pub. 80-8.Google Scholar
  15. Corliss, J. B., Baross, J. A., and Hoffman, S. E.: 1981,Oceanologica Acta No. Sp., 59.Google Scholar
  16. Corliss, J. B., Dymond, J., Gordon, L. I., Edmond, J. M., von Herzen, R. P., Ballard, R. D., Green, K., Williams, D., Bainbridge, A., Crane, K., and van Andel, T. H.: 1979,Science 203, 1073.Google Scholar
  17. Costa, U. R., Fyfe, W. S., Kerrich, R., and Nesbitt, M. W.: 1980,Chemical Geol. 30, 341.Google Scholar
  18. Crick, F. H. C. and Orgel, L. E.: 1973,Icarus 19, 341.Google Scholar
  19. Delaney, J. R., McDuff, R. E., and Lupton, J. E.: 1984,EOS 65, 051C-01.Google Scholar
  20. Desbruyeres, D., Gaill, F., Laubier, L., Prieur, D., and Rau, G. H.: 1983,Marine Biol. 75, 201.Google Scholar
  21. Edmond, J. M., Von Damm, K. L., McDuff, R. E., and Measures, C. I.: 1982,Nature 297, 187.Google Scholar
  22. Francis, S., Margulis, L., and Barghoorn, E. S.: 1978a,Precamb, Res. 6, 65.Google Scholar
  23. Francis, S., Barghoorn, E. S., and Margulis, L.: 1978b,Precamb. Res. 7, 387.Google Scholar
  24. Fyfe, W. S.: 1980,Proceed. 3rd Colloquium on Planetary Water, State Univ. of New York, Buffalo, NASA, Washington, D. C., pp. 1–4.Google Scholar
  25. Fyfe, W. S.: 1981,Science 213, 105.Google Scholar
  26. Gold, T. J.: 1982, in P. McGeer and E. Durbin (eds.),Methane — Fuel for the Future, Plenum Press, New York, p. 45.Google Scholar
  27. Gregory, R. J. and Taylor, H. P., Jr.: 1981,J. Geophys. Res. 86, 2737.Google Scholar
  28. Haymon, R. M., Koski, R. A., and Sinclair, C.: 1984,Science 223, 1407.Google Scholar
  29. Hekinian, R., Renard, V., and Cheminee, J. L.: 1984, in P. A. Rona, K. Bostrom, L. Laubier, and K. L. Smith, Jr. (eds.)Hydrothermal Processes at Seafloor Spreading Centers, Plenum Press, New York, p. 571.Google Scholar
  30. Hessler, R. R. and Smithey, W. M., Jr.: 1984, in P. A. Rona, K. Bostrom, L. Laubier, and K. L. Smith, Jr., (eds.),Hydrothermal Processes at Seafloor Spreading Centers, Plenum Press, New York, p. 755.Google Scholar
  31. Hoffman, S. E.: 1984,Workshop on the Early Earth: The Interval from Accretion to the Older Archean, Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, 31.Google Scholar
  32. Hoffman, S. E. and Baross, J. A.: 1984,Workshop on the Early Earth: the Interval from Accretion to the Older Archean, Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, 34.Google Scholar
  33. Hoyle, F. and Wickramasinghe, N. C.: 1979,Lifecloud, Sphere Books, Ltd., London, 189 pp.Google Scholar
  34. Jannasch, H. W.: 1984, in P. A. Rona, K. Bostrom, L. Laubier, and K. L. Smith, Jr.,Hydrothermal Processes at Seafloor Spreading Centers (eds.), Plenum Press, New York, p. 677.Google Scholar
  35. Jannasch, H. W. and Wirsen, C. O.: 1981,Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 41, 528.Google Scholar
  36. Jones, W. J., Leigh, J. A., Mayer, F., Woese, C. R., and Wolfe, R. S.: 1983,Arch. Microbiol. 136, 254.Google Scholar
  37. Karl, D. M., Burns, D. J., and Orrett, K.: 1983,Abstr. Ann. Meet. Am. Soc. Microbiol. N69, 235.Google Scholar
  38. Karl, D. M., Wirsen, C. O., and Jannasch, H. W.: 1980,Science 207, 1345.Google Scholar
  39. Knoll, A. H. and Barghoorn, E. S.: 1977,Science 198, 396.Google Scholar
  40. Kushner, D. J. (ed.): 1978,Microbial Life in extreme Environments, Academic Press, London, 465 pp.Google Scholar
  41. Lilley, M. D., de Angelis, M. A., and Gordon, L. I.: 1982,Nature 300, 48.Google Scholar
  42. Lilley, M. D., Baross, J. A., and Gordon, L. I.: 1984, in P. A. Rona, K. Bostrom, L. Laubier, and K. L. Smith, Jr. (eds.),Hydrothermal Processes at Seafloor Spreading Centers, Plenum Press, New York, p. 411.Google Scholar
  43. Lupton, J. E., Weiss, R. F., and Craig, H.: 1977,Nature 267, 603.Google Scholar
  44. Margulis, L.: 1981,Symbiosis in Cell Evolution, W. H. Freeman and Co., San Francisco, 419 pp.Google Scholar
  45. Margulis, L., Walker, J. C. G., and Rambler, M.: 1976,Nature 264, 620.Google Scholar
  46. Oehler, J. H. and Schopf, J. W.: 1971,Science 174, 1229.Google Scholar
  47. Oudin, E. and Constantinou, G.: 1984,Nature 308, 349.Google Scholar
  48. Rona, P. A., Bostrom, K., Laubier, L. and Smith, K. L., Jr. (eds.): 1984,Hydrothermal Processes at Seafloor Spreading Centers, Plenum Press, New York, 796 pp.Google Scholar
  49. Schopf, J. W.: 1975,Ann. Rev. Earth & Planet. Sci. 3, 213.Google Scholar
  50. Schopf, J. W. (ed.): 1983,Earth's Earliest Biosphere, Its Origin and Evolution, Princeton Univ. Press, New Jersey, 543 pp.Google Scholar
  51. Shanks, W. L., Bischoff, J. L., and Rosenbauer, R. J.: 1981,Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 45, 1977.Google Scholar
  52. Spiess, F. N., McDonald, K. C., Atwater, T., Ballard, R., Carranza, A., Cordoba, D., Cox, C., Diaz Garcia, V. M., Francheteau, J., Guerrero, J., Hawkins, J., Haymon, R., Hessler, R., Juteau, T., Kastner, M., Larson, R., Luyendyk, B., Macdougall, J. D., Miller, S., Normack, W., Orcutt, J., and Rangin, C.: 1980,Science 207, 1421.Google Scholar
  53. Stetter, K. O.: 1982,Nature 300, 258.Google Scholar
  54. Styrt, M. M., Brackmann, A. J., Holland, H. D., Clark, B. C., Pisutha-Arnond, V., Eldridge, S. C., and Ohmoto, H.: 1981,Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 53, 382.Google Scholar
  55. Towe, K. M.: 1978,Nature 274, 657.Google Scholar
  56. Towe, K. M.: 1983,Precambrian Res. 20, 161.Google Scholar
  57. Walker, J. C. G.: 1983,Nature 302, 518.Google Scholar
  58. Walter, M. R., Bauld, J., and Brock, T. D.: 1972,Science 178, 402.Google Scholar
  59. Walter, M. R., Goode, A. D. T., and Hall, W. D. M.: 1976,Nature 261, 221.Google Scholar
  60. Walter, M. R., Buick, R., and Dunlop, J. S. R.: 1980,Nature 284, 443.Google Scholar
  61. Woese, C. R.: 1982,Zbl. Bakt. Myg., I. Abt. Orig. C3, 1.Google Scholar
  62. Yun, Z.: 1984,Nature 309, 547.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • John A. Baross
    • 1
  • Sarah E. Hoffman
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Oceanography, WB-10University of WashingtonSeattleU.S.A
  2. 2.College of OceanographyOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

Personalised recommendations