One of the secrets of the origin of life on Earth revealed in a new study

By Jurassic JennMay 12, 2024 12:02 PMScience
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One of the secrets of the origin of life on Earth
One of the secrets of the origin of life on Earth. Source: www.theguardian.com

Scientists have taken another step toward solving the mystery of the origin of life on Earth. In a new experiment, they recreated the conditions under which biopolymers, the organic compounds that make up all living organisms on our planet, were formed from inanimate matter.

This was reported by SSPDaily.

The first such experiment was conducted by scientist Stanley Miller in the middle of the last century. He tried to recreate the conditions of the early Earth. After mixing several simple substances that could have been present in the atmosphere and oceans of the young planet in a flask, he heated them, simulating geological activity, and struck them with an electric current like lightning. Thus, his theory was confirmed, since under the influence of these physical factors, amino acids were formed in the "primordial soup", the so-called "bricks" for building proteins.

70 years later, a group of German researchers improved the conditions of the experiment. The flasks were replaced with a tiny piece of inert Teflon-like substance (Fluorinated ethylene propylene, FEP) covered with extensive networks of microcracks, similar to those that occur naturally in rocks. This piece of FEP was then sandwiched between sapphire plates and an aqueous solution of chemicals key to living organisms was passed through the cracks.

The scientists then heated the object to mimic conditions that could occur in the ocean near hydrothermal vents or in rocks near a geothermal basin. The heating proved to be a very powerful catalyst for the reactions.

The heat that spread through a network of microcracks sorted and filtered the molecules in the "soup", which combined into longer chains and formed biopolymers, the "building blocks" of living organisms. Polymers include nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), peptides, proteins, carbohydrates, and polysaccharides.

The researchers are not going to stop and plan to create the necessary conditions using natural geological materials and build larger networks of interconnected sections at the next stage.

As a reminder, scientists have recreated the emergence of life in the Universe by creating several planetary conditions in a test tube. They came to the conclusion that there are hundreds of ways in which life could develop in the Universe.

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