Hope Johnson—the head of Dan Black Hall laboratory—along with some student researchers has been growing cultures of cyanobacteria—bacterial species that can perform the photosynthetic reaction. The bacteria cultures are growing inside small petri-dishes as tiny green spots and as a brilliant green-colored liquid in glass flasks.
Cyanobacteria are the important species, which can hold the secret to understanding the evolution of oxygen on the billions of years old Earth.
Johnson—associate professor of biological science—said that this is one of the doubts that human desires to clarify, some of the suspicions include initial development of humans, life cycle durability, exploration for other life-supporting planets, and many more.
Johnson’s research majorly focuses on studying in detail about the production of oxygen from water in the plants and cyanobacteria with the help of photosystem II enzymes. The research is funded with an estimated grant of $172,258 for the two years of research.
Dimagiba—working on the research for around past two years—noted that the oxygen production ability of cyanobacteria from water is a mystery. The uncertainty about the evolution of the most crucial element for life survival till now is quite surprising.
Johnson explained that Earth began its journey as an oxygen-free environment. During that time only anaerobic organisms were surviving. According to her, around 2.3 billion years ago, a Great Oxidation Event began through which cyanobacteria started releasing oxygen by the photosynthesis process and oxygen started accumulating in the environment.
Johnson added that the event led to significant changes in the Earth’s chemistry and created diversification in cellular metabolisms such as oxidative respiration over which the current cellular life depends.
Currently, researchers are hypothetically testing the photosynthesis by using manganese element instead of water, which revealed that oxidized manganese is generated by the photosystem II reaction of photosynthesis occurring in cyanobacteria.