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Cyanobacteria are the only prokaryotes to have evolved oxygenic photosynthesis, transforming the biology and chemistry of our planet. Genomic and evolutionary studies have revolutionized our understanding of early oxygenic phototrophs, complementing and dramatically extending inferences from the geologic record. Molecular clock estimates point to a Paleoarchean origin (3.6-3.2 billion years ago, bya) of the core proteins of Photosystem II (PSII) involved in oxygenic photosynthesis and a Mesoarchean origin (3.2-2.8 bya) for the last common ancestor of modern cyanobacteria. Nonetheless, most extant cyanobacteria diversified after the Great Oxidation Event (GOE), an environmental watershed ca. 2.45 bya made possible by oxygenic photosynthesis. Throughout their evolutionary history, cyanobacteria have played a key role in the global carbon cycle. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Patricia Sánchez-Baracaldo, Giorgio Bianchini, Jamie D Wilson, Andrew H Knoll. Cyanobacteria and biogeochemical cycles through Earth history. Trends in microbiology. 2022 Feb;30(2):143-157

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PMID: 34229911

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