Light-driven anaerobic microbial oxidation of manganese

Mirna Daye, Vanja Klepac-Ceraj, Mihkel Pajusalu, Sophie Rowland, Anna Farrell-Sherman, Nicolas Beukes, Nobumichi Tamura, Gregory Fournier, Tanja Bosak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)


Oxygenic photosynthesis supplies organic carbon to the modern biosphere, but it is uncertain when this metabolism originated. It has previously been proposed1,2 that photosynthetic reaction centres capable of splitting water arose by about 3 billion years ago on the basis of the inferred presence of manganese oxides in Archaean sedimentary rocks. However, this assumes that manganese oxides can be produced only in the presence of molecular oxygen3, reactive oxygen species4,5 or by high-potential photosynthetic reaction centres6,7. Here we show that communities of anoxygenic photosynthetic microorganisms biomineralize manganese oxides in the absence of molecular oxygen and high-potential photosynthetic reaction centres. Microbial oxidation of Mn(ii) under strictly anaerobic conditions during the Archaean eon would have produced geochemical signals identical to those used to date the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis before the Great Oxidation Event1,2. This light-dependent process may also produce manganese oxides in the photic zones of modern anoxic water bodies and sediments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-314
Number of pages4
Issue number7786
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Multidisciplinary


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