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Thylakoid membranes

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 Context: Thylakoid membranes are small pouches located in the chloroplasts of plants, storing chlorophyll and playing a crucial role in photosynthesis.

  • Originally found in ancient cyanobacteria, these light-sensitive bacteria are believed to have contributed to the oxygen levels in Earth’s atmosphere billions of years ago.
  • Recent discoveries, particularly 1.75-billion-year-old fossilized thylakoid membranes in microfossils off the coasts of Australia, suggest that thylakoids played a key role in the “Great Oxygenation” event around 2.4 billion years ago.
  • This event involved the release of oxygen by cyanobacteria, initially filling the oceans and eventually escaping into the atmosphere, leading to the transformation of Earth’s atmospheric composition.

The findings open avenues for further exploration of older cyanobacterial microfossils and testing hypotheses related to the emergence of thylakoids and their impact on Earth’s early oxygenation.