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Journal Articles Journal of the Royal Society Interface Year : 2014

The evolution of respiratory O2/NO reductases: an out-of-the-phylogenetic-box perspective


Complex life on our planet crucially depends on strong redox disequilibria afforded by the almost ubiquitous presence of highly oxidizing molecular oxygen. However, the history of O2-levels in the atmosphere is complex and prior to the Great Oxidation Event some 2.3 billion years ago, the amount of O2 in the biosphere is considered to have been extremely low as compared with present-day values. Therefore the evolutionary histories of life and of O2-levels are likely intricately intertwined. The obvious biological proxy for inferring the impact of changing O2-levels on life is the evolutionary history of the enzyme allowing organisms to tap into the redox power of molecular oxygen, i.e. the bioenergetic O2 reductases, alias the cytochrome and quinol oxidases. Consequently, molecular phylogenies reconstructed for this enzyme superfamily have been exploited over the last two decades in attempts to elucidate the interlocking between O2 levels in the environment and the evolution of respiratory bioenergetic processes. Although based on strictly identical datasets, these phylogenetic approaches have led to diametrically opposite scenarios with respect to the history of both the enzyme superfamily and molecular oxygen on the Earth. In an effort to overcome the deadlock of molecular phylogeny, we here review presently available structural, functional, palaeogeochemical and thermodynamic information pertinent to the evolution of the superfamily (which notably also encompasses the subfamily of nitric oxide reductases). The scenario which, in our eyes, most closely fits the ensemble of these non-phylogenetic data, sees the low O2-affinity SoxM- (or A-) type enzymes as the most recent evolutionary innovation and the high-affinity O2 reductases (SoxB or B and cbb3 or C) as arising independently from NO-reducing precursor enzymes.

Dates and versions

hal-01494539 , version 1 (23-03-2017)



A.-L. Ducluzeau, B. Schoepp-Cothenet, R. van Lis, F. Baymann, M. J. Russell, et al.. The evolution of respiratory O2/NO reductases: an out-of-the-phylogenetic-box perspective. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 2014, 11 (98), pp.20140196 - 20140196. ⟨10.1098/rsif.2014.0196⟩. ⟨hal-01494539⟩


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