|Bacterial Mat- Yellowstone Wikimedia|
The migration of life from water to land 350 million years ago was only made possible by the development of surfaces for plants to grow upon. Without plants there was no reason for animals to come ashore. The question is how how did the rocks develop into soil, and the answer appears to be slime, also known as Biofilm.
In The Slime that Saves the Planet, Eric Sorensen describes current research into slime. "Biofilm forms a super-thin layer gluing the roots of plants to mineral surfaces and serves as a reactor in which a plant can break down the rock for vital nutrients." Plants absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide, it forms carbonic acid which dissolves minerals, forming the carbonates which form calcium carbonate and other compounds as well as creating habitat and nutrients for the animals which followed them ashore.
Biofilm is an important factor in the conversion of rock to life and visa-versa that we wrote about in a previous blog. Research is now attempting to understand how biofilms both build and store nutrients. These lessons could be the basis for agriculture requiring far fewer of the current fertilizers whose production requires so much of fossil fuel.