Genomics and Cell Biology: May 2013

Astrobiologists funded in part by the NASA Astrobiology Institute have uncovered new information about the role of metalloenzymes in the origins of life. Metalloenzymes are enzymes where metals act as a co-factor or are incorporated as part of the molecule. Phylogenetic analysis of metalloenzymes involved in chemiosmosis suggests that they may have been present in the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) of life on Earth.

Two recent high-profile phylogenetic studies reached conflicting conclusions about whether snail's closest relatives are bivalves or an enigmatic group called tusk shells. Vanderbilt phylogeneticists suggest that the cause of this conflict is that the three groups diverged rapidly a long time ago. Credit: Antonis Rokas, Vanderbilt University