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Published Online: 13 May 2016

Enzymatic Antioxidant Systems in Early Anaerobes: Theoretical Considerations

Publication: Astrobiology
Volume 16, Issue Number 5


It is widely accepted that cyanobacteria-dependent oxygen that was released into Earth's atmosphere ca. 2.5 billion years ago sparked the evolution of the aerobic metabolism and the antioxidant system. In modern aerobes, enzymes such as superoxide dismutases (SODs), peroxiredoxins (PXs), and catalases (CATs) constitute the core of the enzymatic antioxidant system (EAS) directed against reactive oxygen species (ROS). In many anaerobic prokaryotes, the superoxide reductases (SORs) have been identified as the main force in counteracting ROS toxicity. We found that 93% of the analyzed strict anaerobes possess at least one antioxidant enzyme, and 50% have a functional EAS, that is, consisting of at least two antioxidant enzymes: one for superoxide anion radical detoxification and another for hydrogen peroxide decomposition. The results presented here suggest that the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) was not a strict anaerobe. O2 could have been available for the first microorganisms before oxygenic photosynthesis evolved, however, from the intrinsic activity of EAS, not solely from abiotic sources. Key Words: Archaea—Atmospheric gases—Evolution—H2O2 resistance—Oxygenic photosynthesis. Astrobiology 16, 348–358.

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Published In

cover image Astrobiology
Volume 16Issue Number 5May 2016
Pages: 348 - 358
PubMed: 27176812


Published online: 13 May 2016
Published in print: May 2016
Accepted: 1 December 2015
Received: 27 March 2015


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Ireneusz Ślesak
The Franciszek Górski Institute of Plant Physiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków, Poland.
Halina Ślesak
Institute of Botany, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland.
Paulina Zimak-Piekarczyk
The Franciszek Górski Institute of Plant Physiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków, Poland.
Piotr Rozpądek
The Franciszek Górski Institute of Plant Physiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków, Poland.
Institute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland.


Address correspondence to:Ireneusz ŚlesakThe Franciszek Górski Institute of Plant PhysiologyPolish Academy of SciencesNiezapominajek 2130-239 KrakówPoland
E-mail: [email protected]

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