The fermentation of atmospheric acetylene by anaerobic bacteria is proposed as the basis of a primordial heterotrophic food chain. The accumulation of fermentation products (acetaldehyde, ethanol, acetate and hydrogen) would create niches for sulfate-respiring bacteria as well as methanogens. Formation of acetylene-free environments in soils and sediments would also alter the function of nitrogenase from detoxification to nitrogen-fixation. The possibility of an acetylene-based anaerobic food chain in Jovian-type atmospheres is discussed. ?? 1988 Kluwer Academic Publishers.
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Acetylene as a substrate in the development of primordial bacterial communities