Investigating the Influence of Archean Seawater Composition on the Evolution and Diversity of Microbial Metallo-Enzyme Evolution Through the Chemistry of Archean Banded Iron Formation

Regions: Gwich'in Settlement Area, North Slave Region

Tags: physical sciences, geology, stratigraphy, petrology, banded iron formation

Principal Investigator: Mloszewski, Aleksandra M (2)
Licence Number: 14789
Organization: University of Alberta
Licensed Year(s): 2011 2010
Issued: Aug 10, 2010
Project Team: Kurt Konhauser (Supervisor, University of Alberta), Natalie Aubet (Field Assistant, University of Alberta), Ernesto Pecoits (Field Assistant, University of Alberta)

Objective(s): To gain an understanding of how the diversity and evolution of microbial metallo-enzymes was influenced by the chemical composition of Archean-aged oceans through the trace metal composition of Archean-aged Banded Iron Formations.

Project Description: In the effort to better understand the early evolution of life on Earth, the research goal is to investigating how the diversity and evolution of microbial metallo-enzymes were influenced by the chemical composition of Archean-aged oceans through the trace metal composition of Archean-aged Banded Iron Formations (BIF).

The data collected from samples gathered during fieldwork in the NWT will help in determining whether the trace metals available to microbes in the early Archean ocean are still used in the metallo-enzymes of modern microbes. The researcher will appraise the metal contents in some modern metallo-enzymes with advanced mass spectrometry techniques for protein identification and sequencing, in collaboration with researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. By comparing these results with the availability of trace metals in the Archean ocean, metabolic types available to microbes at that time in Earth history will become evident. This study is a unique opportunity to understand the ecology of the oldest ecosystem on Earth and may reveal important information about weathering processes which provided solutes to the oceans, and potentially, the composition of Earth’s first continental crust.

Reports about dataset and analysis interpretation will be timely presented in order to maximize the community knowledge about goals and results. In addition, attendance to workshops in local community learning centers will provide the opportunity to interact with the people and give educational training.
The project will contribute in the field of the basic geology; however, the understanding of the process related to the units to be studied would contribute to the understanding of economic potential.

Poster and oral presentations will be prepared for the Yellowknife Geoscience Forum; updates on research findings will be disseminated through NWT Geoscience Office Outreach geologists, and published results will be provided to Aurora Research Institute.


The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from August 25, 2010 to September 2, 2010.