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Biosignatures of ancient microbial life are present across the igneous crust of the Fennoscandian shield
Institutionen för biologi och miljö, Linneuniversitet.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7230-6509
Geochronology and Tracers Facility, British Geological Survey.
Department of Biology and Environmental Science, Linnæus University.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0606-9175
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Geology.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2227-577X
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2021 (English)In: Communications Earth & Environment, E-ISSN 2662-4435, Vol. 2, no 1, article id 102Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Earth’s crust contains a substantial proportion of global biomass, hosting microbial life up to several kilometers depth. Yet, knowledge of the evolution and extent of life in this environment remains elusive and patchy. Here we present isotopic, molecular and morphological signatures for deep ancient life in vein mineral specimens from mines distributed across the Precambrian Fennoscandian shield. Stable carbon isotopic signatures of calcite indicate microbial methanogenesis. In addition, sulfur isotope variability in pyrite, supported by stable carbon isotopic signatures of methyl-branched fatty acids, suggest subsequent bacterial sulfate reduction. Carbonate geochronology constrains the timing of these processes to the Cenozoic. We suggest that signatures of an ancient deep biosphere and long-term microbial activity are present throughout this shield. We suggest that microbes may have been active in the continental igneous crust over geological timescales, and that subsurface investigations may be valuable in the search for extra-terrestrial life.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Nature, 2021. Vol. 2, no 1, article id 102
Keywords [en]
General Earth and Planetary Sciences, General Environmental Science
National Category
Natural Sciences Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Diversity of life; The changing Earth
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:nrm:diva-4512DOI: 10.1038/s43247-021-00170-2OAI: oai:DiVA.org:nrm-4512DiVA, id: diva2:1618765
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2017-05186Swedish Research Council Formas, 2017-0076Swedish Research Council, 2017-04129Swedish Research Council Formas, 2020-01577
Note

Open access funding provided by Linnaeus University.

Volker Thiel is thanked for providing laboratory access to Göttingen University, and Jens Dyckmans for bulk δ13C of solid bitumen and compound-specific δ13C analyses. Kerstin Lindén is thanked for sample preparation assistance, Heejin Jeon for SIMS assistance, Karin Wallner for laboratory assistance, and Katerina Rodiouchkina for method development of S isotope analysis. Thanks to Johan Olsson, Boliden Mineral AB, for providing samples from the active mine in Garpenberg, Stefan Hagenfeldt for providing a sample from Dannemora, Geological Survey of Sweden for permission to use maps (case number 2011:1308), and to University of Gothenburg for access to SEM. This is NordSIM publication 678 and Vegacenter publication 039.

Available from: 2021-12-10 Created: 2021-12-10 Last updated: 2022-09-15Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full texthttps://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-021-00170-2

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Drake, HenrikReinhardt, ManuelWhitehouse, MartinIvarsson, MagnusKarlsson, AndreasKooijman, EllenKielman-Schmitt, Melanie
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