By analyzing the behavior of some bacterial colonies living in Middle Island Sinkhole Lake Huron and conducting some experiments in the laboratory, an international research team led by scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Marine Microbiology in Bremen (Germany) determined that oxygen which has allowed complex life has been “given” to us by the slowdown of the earth’s rotation. Here’s how it’s possible.

Although the Amazon rainforest is commonly called the “green lung of the Earth“, In reality the vast majority ofoxygen that comes in atmosphere and that allows us and other living beings to breathe comes from big and give it oceans, produced by tiny unicellular algae e cyanobatteri. It is believed that it was precisely the explosion of photosynthetic microorganisms similar to those of today to determine the Great Oxidation Event occurred 2.4 billion years, a process that led to the entry of large concentrations of oxygen thus allowing the development of multicellular life e complex. Put simply, without this event – and the next one called Neoproterozoic Oxygenation Event occurred between 550 and 800 million years ago – probably theman and the biodiversity as we know it today they would not exist. But behind this fascinating story lies another phenomenon, di astronomical origin, in the absence of which – probably – the diffusion of the precious items would not have occurred cyanobatteri preistorici. We are talking about the slowdown of the Earth’s rotation, for the first time associated with the oxygenation of the planet.

Describing this curious link between the Earth’s rotational speed and major oxygenation events was an international research team led by German scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Marine Microbiology in Bremen, who collaborated closely with colleagues from the Center. Leibniz for Tropical Marine Research, the Annis Water Resources Institute of the Grand Valley State University of Muskegon (Michigan, United States) and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan. The scientists, coordinated by Professor Judith Klatt, a geomicrobiologist at the German institute’s Microsensor Group, came to their conclusions after conducting some laboratory experiments and having studied the behavior of some bacterial colonies living in Lago Huron from Middle Island Sinkhole. In simple terms, in these cold waters there are two bacterial groups that compete with each other: i cyanobatteri viola which produce oxygen through the photosynthesis e white microorganisms which metabolize it sulfur. Depending on the time of day, one group gets the better of the other, with photosynthetic bacteria only being able to outperform the others when the sun is high in the sky. In practice, during the hottest part of the day, they migrate upwards and overtake the white microbes; when the light goes down the latter take back the “command”. Since purple cyanobacteria take time to initiate photosynthesis and produce oxygen, the production window is limited in time and is tied to the length of the day.

Professor Klatt and colleagues speculate that similar competitions between bacteria also existed in the Primeval land, and that the “victory” of photosynthetic cyanobacteria over others – with the consequent large introduction of oxygen into the atmosphere – would have been linked precisely to slowdown of the Earth’s rotation, which is equivalent to an elongation of the length of the day. This progressive slowdown, just by 1.8 milliseconds per century, is due togravitational attraction exercised by Luna which is slowly moving away from our planet. It is believed that the day, in the first phase of Earth’s “infancy”, lasted just 6 hours; on the basis of fossil records it has been determined that 1.4 billion years ago the day would last instead 18 ore; while 70 million years ago a day lasted about half an hour less compared to 24 hours today. In simple terms, the slowing of the planet and the increase in the number of hours of light available to photosynthetic cyanobacteria would have allowed these microorganisms to pump more and more oxygen into the atmosphere, leading to the two major oxidation events mentioned above.

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Today the earth’s atmosphere is composed for the 21 percent from oxygen and we know how precious it is for our life and that of other living beings. “Our research suggests that the speed at which the Earth rotates, in other words, the length of the day, may have had a major effect on the pattern and timing of Earth’s oxygenation,” Professor Gregory said in a press release. Dick, professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences of the American university. The details of the research “Possible link between Earth’s rotation rate and oxygenation” have been published in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience.

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