Iron is a Crucial Element for Evolution of Life

Jay Kakade
Two Earth's Comparison of Iron infusion
Left: Early Earth - shows, Oceans infused with Iron. Right Image shows Present earth. Image credit: Mark A. Garlick /

If someone asks you, What is crucial for Life? Most of the answers will be Oxygen. When Oxygen started surging in Atmosphere, About 2.5 Billion Years Ago Live began its development.

Though Oxygen has played a significant role for development of Life, But all credit can't be claimed by only Oxygen. According to some scientists, There's another element played a important role. The Element is Iron. Study done by University of Oxford shares a idea about How a element is likely influence life on planet. Fluctuations of Iron may have influenced Evolution on Earth.

Iron is an most essential element for all life. It is Iron that allows our cells to Sense Oxygen, Replicate DNA and generate energy. In Fact, There only two living organisms on entire Earth that do not require Iron to sustain.

In Early days of development of Earth, There was abundance of availability of Iron on Earth. Most of it was present in Mantle and Upper Crust. Solid Iron present may be due to Meteorites from Outer Space. As many meteors may have hit Oceans, Iron was abundant in Marine Environment too.

But soon conditions changed, Scarcity of soluble Iron led to competition between cells. Cells struggled to recycle Iron from death Cells, Steal Iron from other cells or Live in another cell. This struggle may have lead to multicellular Evolution.
Infection, Predators and symbiosis are the results of this competition of Iron Acquisition.

Iron Availability life forms
Credit : Volker Erdmann/Getty Images

Studies states that Early evolved living organisms like Bacteria and Algae used to rely more on Iron for Survival.
This study also states, As Iron availability is fluctuating Modern Living Organisms have learnt to use Iron effectively.

According to a new research, Lately Oceans began to loose their soluble Iron due to increasing of Oxygen. When solid Iron reacts with water in presence of Oxygen, Iron is rapidly Oxidized. This oxidized Iron to though for living organisms to use.

To acquire this Iron, Organisms need to secret siderophores - small, high-affinity iron-chelating compounds. In present times, Almost all bacteria, Fundi and plants have this type of structure. This was a another type of evolution triggered by Iron fluctuation. 

As life-forms began (with Siderophores) to gather at Iron rich provinces, More complex cell-to-cell interaction was observed. It is believed, Terrestrial Life may have evolved only after this complex interaction.
Though after it, amount of CO2 too increased. Increased CO2 can lead to Iron deficiency. scientists are studying how life evolved in this scenario too.

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