A new report has revealed that, as far back as the beginning of time, microbes were making venoms out of their own bodies and could be traced back to the planet’s earliest days.
The report, published in the journal Nature, also found that many of the microbes were able to infect humans and other animals as early as 1.6 billion years ago.
“We know very little about the origin of these bacteria, but we think they came from the first animals on earth,” said lead author Prof John A. Wootton from the University of Exeter.
“There’s been a lot of work on the origins and the emergence of the bacteria, and it has been shown that it comes from the surface water, which has been in a very poor state for a very long time.”
He said it was not known whether the first bacteria were capable of producing viable virions, but they could have done so by ingesting nutrients from the water.
“That’s an interesting possibility,” he said.
“I think we can’t rule it out.
I mean, it would be an interesting hypothesis.”
The researchers used high-resolution molecular techniques to determine the bacteria’s genetic make-up, including the proteins and enzymes that they use to replicate.
“It’s a bit like looking at a spider web, it’s very intricate and very complicated,” Prof Wooton said.
But he said the scientists were confident the bacteria were coming from Earth because they had identified the same genes in many other species of bacteria and fungi.
“This is the first time we have identified the genes of the original species that have been evolving in this way for tens of millions of years,” he explained.
“If you look at all the bacteria and the fungi, you see the same sequence of genes.
So this means the bacteria have been living on this planet for a long time, perhaps tens of billions of years.”
Prof Wootons work is part of the UK’s National Centre for Biotechnology, Biological Sciences and the Environment (NCBSE), which was set up by the government to study how the planet was created.
“The key thing to do is to understand what has been happening in the past to create life, because this is the source of our DNA,” he added.
“So we need to look back in time and see how life has evolved and where it originated.”
What is happening is that this water has been degraded for billions of year, so what we are seeing is the degradation of water.
“Topics:science-and-technology,biology,science-fiction-fiction,bacteria-and/or-fungi,ecology,biotechnology,environment,sciences,new-zealandFirst posted October 06, 2019 08:06:08Contact Nick DuttonMore stories from New Zealand