Did silicon aid in the establishment of the first bacterium?
Silicic acid increased numbers of both aerobic and facultatively anaerobic bacteria in ultrapure water incubated under strict oligotrophic conditions; soil extracts acted as the bacterial inoculum. The results are discussed in relation to the possibility that silicic acid, produced by the hydrolysis of silicates on the early Earth, could have stimulated the growth of the first bacterium, thereby allowing it to become established in the then prevailing conditions (presumed to be oligotrophic).(Received April 16 2003)
(Accepted July 1 2003)
Key Words: bacterial evolution; origin of life; panspermia; silicon microbiology.