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Coevolution of life and Earth

We explore the co-evolution of life and the chemistry of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans.

Life has completely transformed Earth. The transition between Earth without life an Earth with life depended on key evolutionary innovations. Some examples are the evolution of oxygen-producing cyanobacteria and the evolution of eukaryotic cells leading to complex food chains.

We study the evolution of life on Earth using a variety of techniques including the elemental composition of ancient sedimentary rocks to unravel the history of the ocean and atmospheric chemistry. We use biomarker analyses to unravel the history of ecosystem evolution, and we use these results to inform experimental physiological studies on how evolution impacts ecosystem dynamics. We explored how evolving ecosystems might have affected ocean and atmospheric chemistry through 4-D modeling of ocean dynamics using platforms such as ROMS (Regional Ocean Model System).


  • Trace metals

  • Biomarkers

  • Modeling

  • Eukaryogenesis



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Image rights: Don Canfield

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