Biomarkers: Molecular Tools to Study Life, Environment, and Climate

Life on Earth produces innumerable structurally diverse biomolecules. Biomarkers, a subset of these compounds, are sufficiently specific in the structure that they serve as tracers of organisms present in the environment or preserved in the geological record. Biomarkers can be used as proxies for organisms and the biogeochemical processes they mediate or to which they respond. They can help to document and understand processes that are other- wise difficult to study, and their fossil derivatives can be used to reconstruct past ecosystems, environmental conditions, and climate variations. Biomarker science interfaces with biology, chemistry, environmental, and Earth sciences, and provides valuable opportunities to learn more about how the Earth system has evolved over time.

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