Zinc enrichment and isotopic fractionation in a marine habitat of the c. 2.1 Ga Francevillian Group: A signature of zinc utilization by eukaryotes?

Frantz Ossa Ossa, Marie Laure Pons, Andrey Bekker, Axel Hofmann, Simon W. Poulton, Morten B. Andersen, Andrea Agangi, Daniel Gregory, Christian Reinke, Bernd Steinhilber, Johanna Marin-Carbonne, Ronny Schoenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Constraining the timing of eukaryogenesis and the divergence of eukaryotic clades is a major challenge in evolutionary biology. Here, we present trace metal concentration and zinc isotope data for c. 2.1 billion-year-old Francevillian Group pyritized structures, previously described as putative remnants of the first colonial multicellular organisms, and their host black shales. Relative to the host rocks, pyritized structures are strongly enriched in zinc, cobalt and nickel, by at least one order of magnitude, with markedly lighter zinc isotope compositions. A metabolic demand for high concentrations of aqueous zinc, cobalt, and nickel combined with preferential uptake of lighter zinc isotopes may indicate metalloenzyme utilization by eukaryotes in marine habitats c. 2.1 billion years ago. Once confirmed, this would provide a critical calibration point for eukaryogenesis, suggesting that this major evolutionary innovation may have happened contemporaneously with elevated atmospheric oxygen levels during the latter part of the Great Oxidation Event, some 400 million years earlier than is currently widely accepted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118147
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume611
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023

Keywords

  • Francevillian Group
  • Great Oxidation Event
  • Paleoproterozoic
  • metalloenzyme
  • origin of eukaryotes
  • zinc uptake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

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