Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Tue Hassenkam: Using nano-tools to study the oldest traces of life on Earth

Seminar: Astrobiologi

14.03.2019 | Anne Kirstine Mehlsen

Dato ons 20 mar
Tid 15:00 15:45
Sted Institut for Bioscience, Ny Munkegade 114-116, bygning 1540-116

Foredragsholder: lektor Tue Hassenkam, gruppeleder,  the AFM-gruppen, Kemisk institut, Københavs Universitet



Latest results indicate that life arose on Earth between 4.3 and 3.7 billion years ago. Exactly when and how is not yet known. During this talk I will discuss what is known, and what kind of evidence we use as markers for oldest life in the geological record. I will also discuss how we use our sophisticated microscopic tools to shed light on the nature of the earliest life forms on Earth.

Using tools applied in nanoscience like SEM, Micro Raman, AFM, AFM-IR, Tomography, we have studied samples from 3.7 billion years old rocks from the Isua greenstone belt in West Greenland. These metasedimentary rocks contain carbonaceous material, believed to among the oldest preserved remains of life. By finding the right set of elements in the carbonaceous material trapped inside micrometre-size inclusions, we were able to verify their biogenic origin. We are currently trying to utilize this window into the past to determine the nature of the life forms that produced the remains.

I will also discuss how we may use our tools to look for evidence of life in samples from other planetary bodies in the solar system, i.e. Mars.

Institut for Bioscience, Offentligheden / Pressen, Medarbejdere, Mikrobiologi