Purple Earth hypothesis

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The Purple Earth hypothesis is an astrobiological hypothesis that life forms of early Earth were retinal-based rather than chlorophyll-based, making Earth appear purple rather than green. An example of a retinal-based organism today is the photosynthetic microbe collectively called halobacteria.[1][2][3]

The difficulty with this hypothesis is that retinal-based photosynthesis requires either arginine or oxygen in the environment. As a complex amino acid, arginine is not likely to have been available in the levels needed. Oxygen only became available in earth's environment after the development of chlorophyll-based photosynthesis, and given that retinal organisms also require oxygen to synthesize critical substances for life, the possibility that retinal life-forms could have preceded chlorophyll-based ones as the most common photosynthetic organisms is unlikely.

References[edit | hide | edit source]

  1. LiveScience.com: Early Earth Was Purple, Study Suggests Accessed May 9, 2007
  2. Sparks, William B.; DasSarma, S.; Reid, I. N. "Evolutionary Competition Between Primitive Photosynthetic Systems: Existence of an early purple Earth?". Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, Vol. 38, p.901. Bibcode:2006AAS...209.0605S. 
  3. Lozier, R.H.; Bogomolni, R.A.; Stoeckenius, W. (September 1975). "Bacteriorhodopsin: a light-driven proton pump in Halobacterium Halobium". Biophysical Journal. 15 (9): 955–962. Bibcode:1975BpJ....15..955L. doi:10.1016/S0006-3495(75)85875-9. 

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