NAI Director's Seminar Series - streamed online 11am PST/2pmEST

Event Details

NAI Director's Seminar Series - streamed online 11am PST/2pmEST

Time: May 19, 2014 from 11am to 12pm
Website or Map:…
Event Type: webinar
Organized By: Mrinalini Nikrad
Latest Activity: May 16, 2014

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Event Description

Dan Rothman from MIT - 

Microbial Burst Accompanying Earth's Greatest Extinction

 Roughly 252 million years ago, the end-Permian extinction resulted in the greatest loss of life in the fossil record. The cause remains mysterious, but decades of research indicate that a strong perturbation of the global carbon cycle occurs at the extinction's peak. This talk addresses three aspects of this disruption.

First, we show that geochemical signals indicate super-exponential growth of the marine inorganic carbon reservoir, coincident with the extinction and consistent with the expansion of a new microbial metabolic pathway. Second, we show that the efficient pathway via which members of the microbial genus Methanosarcina convert acetate to methane emerged at a time statistically indistinguishable from the extinction. Finally, we show that nickel concentrations in South China sediments increased sharply at the extinction, probably as a consequence of massive Siberian volcanism, enabling a methanogenic expansion by removal of nickel limitation. Collectively, these results are consistent with the instigation of Earth's greatest mass extinction by a specific microbial innovation. 

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