This book investigates the billion-year takeover of planet Earth by its organisms and ecosystems. This chapter examines successively: the chemical constituents of the cells and their roles in carrying the genetic information; the chemical bricks of organic matter in the outer layers of the planet; the ions in the ocean and the organisms; the availability of the key biogenic elements in the environment; and how gravitation links the hardware and software of the cells to the chemical elements in the Earth’s environment and in the whole Universe. The chapter considers the chemical hardware and software of organisms, the hardware going from chemical elements to complex organic molecules, and the software including the nucleic acids, the genetic code and the genetic control of the constituents of organic matter. The hardware and the software are both involved in biological evolution. Gravitation is one of the fundamental characteristics of the Universe, which largely controlled the distribution of chemical elements on Earth since very early in the history of the planet. Because of gravitation, the lighter chemical elements rose to the surface of the still fluid Earth, which concentrated them in the crust where they would become the building blocks of organisms. Gravitation also favours the circulation of chemical elements between different layers of the planet, thus ensuring their long-term availability for ecosystems. The chapter ends with a summary of key points concerning the interactions between the Solar System, Earth, the building blocks of the cells, and the organisms and ecosystems.
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Fig. 6.1 This work, Fig. 6.1, is a derivative of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CHO-cycles_en.png by Qniemiec https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Qniemiec, used under GNU FDL and CC BY-SA 3.0. Figure 6.1 is licensed under GNU FDL and CC BY-SA 3.0 by Mohamed Khamla.
Fig. 6.2 This work, Fig. 6.2, is a derivative of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DNA_replication_split.svg by Madprime https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Mad_Price_Ball, used under GNU FDL, CC BY-SA 3.0 and CC BY-SA 2.5. Figure 6.2 is licensed under GNU FDL and CC BY-SA 3.0 by Mohamed Khamla.
Fig. 6.3 This work, Fig. 6.3, is a derivative of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DNA_replication_split.svg by Madprime https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Mad_Price_Ball, used under GNU FDL, CC BY-SA 3.0 and CC BY-SA 2.5. Figure 6.3 is licensed under GNU FDL and CC BY-SA 3.0 by Mohamed Khamla.
Fig. 6.4 This work, Fig. 6.4, is a derivative of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DNA_transcription.jpg by Dovelike, used under CC BY-SA 3.0. Figure 6.4 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 by Mohamed Khamla.
Fig. 6.5 This work, Fig. 6.5, is a derivative of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Central_Dogma_of_Molecular_Biochemistry_with_Enzymes.jpg by Daniel Horspool, used under CC BY-SA 3.0 and GNU FDL. Figure 6.5 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 and GNU FDL by Mohamed Khamla.
Fig. 6.6 This work, Fig. 6.6, is a derivative of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Discovery_of_chemical_elements.svg by Sandbh, used under CC BY-SA 3.0. Figure 6.6 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 by Mohamed Khamla.
Fig. 6.7 Modified after Figure 12 of http://ressources.unisciel.fr/biocell/chap2/co/module_Chap2_7.html. With permission from Prof. Ijsbrand Kramer, Université de Bordeaux, France.
Fig. 6.8a https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:20130118-HighbormeCay-Stromatolite-03.JPG by Vincent Poirier https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Vfp15, used under CC BY-SA 3.0.
Fig. 6.8b https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lake_Clifton_SMC_2008.jpg by SeanMack https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:SeanMack, used under GNU FDL and CC BY 3.0.
Fig. 6.9 Modified after Figure 11 of Riding (2011). With permission from Prof. Robert E. Riding, Cardiff University, Wales.
Fig. 6.10 Image 17 in Gravity Probe B • Image Gallery, Artwork by Gravity Probe B, Stanford University, NASA and Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space Company, http://einstein.stanford.edu/gallery. All of the photos and images in the GP-B Image Gallery may be downloaded at no charge and used in news and media stories, publications and for educational purposes, https://einstein.stanford.edu/RESOURCES/press-index.html.
Fig. 6.11 This work, Fig. 6.11, is a derivative of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Slice_earth.svgby Dake, used under CC BY-SA 2.5. Figure 6.11 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 and GNU FDL by Mohamed Khamla.
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Bertrand, P., Legendre, L. (2021). The Building Blocks of Organisms: Connections with Gravitation. In: Earth, Our Living Planet. The Frontiers Collection. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-67773-2_6
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