2012 Annual Science Report
Arizona State University Reporting | SEP 2011 – AUG 2012
Stoichiometry of Life, Task 3b: Ancient Records - Genomic
The goal of Task 3b is to bring the enormous and ever-increasing repository of genomic data, both from single organisms and natural environments, to bear on understanding the history of life on Earth. Team members bring together innovative, integrative methods for understanding the interaction and feedback between life and environment, in particular how nutrient and energy limitations shape evolution. These efforts are focused not only on ancient records, but also are playing an important role in understanding how life and environment co-evolve on the modern Earth.
Team members for Task 3b have been involved in several noteworthy accomplishments. In particular, the August 2012 issue of Astrobiology was dedicated to recent progress in Cuatro Cienegas and its relevance to present and future Mars missions. Drs. DuPont and Siefert are both involved in this multidisciplinary, international collaboration, and Dr. Siefert was a coauthor on three papers that appeared in that issue. This work has undeniably advanced the ball in understanding the effects of severe nutrient limitation on both the biodiversity and function of extremophilic life. The NASA “Follow the Elements”-sponsored research in Yellowstone has also seen a number of multidisciplinary publications by team members Boyd and Raymond. Collectively, funding for Task 3b has advanced a number of new techniques for interrogating evolutionary mechanisms in modern environments as a way to understand the ancient genomic record (Siefert, Raymond) and further resolved how and when these events changed the evolutionary trajectory of early life on Earth (DuPont, Boyd). A major goal for the remainder of the project will be to integrate these approaches, which are focused on very different times and environments, into a unified understanding of how the availability of a number of key elements drove biological innovation and evolution.
PROJECT INVESTIGATORS:Jason Raymond
PROJECT MEMBERS:Christopher Dupont
RELATED OBJECTIVES:Objective 5.1
Environment-dependent, molecular evolution in microorganisms
Co-evolution of microbial communities
Biochemical adaptation to extreme environments