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For those that subscribe to the theory of the living earth, it is the prokaryotes that maintain the homeostasis of the earth, rendering the biosphere habitable for all other life.
They maintain and recycle the atomic ingredients upon which proteins that "are" all life are made, including oxygen, nitrogen and carbon.
"The structures and geochemistry from newly exposed outcrops in Greenland display all of the features used in younger rocks to argue for a biological origin," said Professor Van Kranendonk, another member of the team from the University of New South Wales Australian Centre for Astrobiology.
Over very long periods of time the captured sediment reacts with calcium carbonate in sea water to form limestone, which grows at a rate of around 5 cm per 100 years.
It was a time when bacteria reigned supreme, and the cyanobacteria that produced their energy through photosynthesis were ubiquitous and were busily oxygenating the Earth's atmosphere.
This was near the peak of stromatolite formations on Earth.
One genus of stromatolite very common in the geologic record is Collenia ...
The earliest stromatolite of confirmed microbial origin dates to 2.724 billion years ago ...