The next time you see a red-clay hillside of iron ore, think, tiny microbes might have created the components of that billions of years ago.
That is, University of British Columbia and University of Namur (Belgium) researchers recently published findings in Scientific Reports regarding an isolated bay in a large lake in East Africa where 30 percent of the microbes mature by a means of photosynthesis that rusts iron instead of converting water into oxygen in the way used by algae and plants. The team’s work there provided information supporting theories that microbes made ore deposits eons ago, according to their report.
Also, “The bay is giving us real-world insight into how ancient varieties of photosynthesis may have supported Earth’s early life prior to the evolution of the oxygen producing photosynthesis that supports life today,” said UBC geomicrobiologist Sean Crowe, in the release.
Although certain bacteria were discovered in 1993 to have photosynthesized iron, the new report shows that microorganisms were likely involved in creating the deposits of Earth’s oldest formations of iron, according to the release.