The chemical versatility of sulfur and its abundance in the prebiotic Earth as reduced sulfide (H2S) implicate this molecule in the origin of life 3.8 billion years ago and also as a major source of energy in the first seven-eighths of evolution. The tremendous increase in ambient oxygen ~600 million years ago brought an end to H2S as an energy source, and H2S-dependent animals either became extinct, retreated to isolated sulfide niches, or adapted. The first 3 billion years of molecular tinkering were not lost, however, and much of this biochemical armamentarium easily adapted to an oxic environment where it contributes to metabolism and signaling even in humans. This review examines the role of H2S in evolution and the evolution of H2S metabolism and signaling.
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