Biologists closer to understanding early life on Earth

Biologists closer to understanding early life on Earth

Biologists have always sought answers to life’s biggest questions, including the biggest one of all: What is the origin of life on Earth?

Even though science has come a long way in the study of species development throughout time, there has never been a clear answer explaining what started it all. How did the very first cells form? The University of Akron’s Department of Polymer Science feels confident their new discovery of information explains that the organisms we know today may have evolved from very simple molecules. The origin of life may be a simple matter of trends in mother nature instead of such an enormous jump from basic molecules to complex beings that scientists originally believed.

Their research shows that the building blocks of life are amino acids and sugars, and their behavior has a bias of forming with more complicated structures with similar molecules. By realizing this behavior, their research can determine that these basic molecules will constantly continue seeking out similar and more complicated molecules in which to bond. This behavior is called Homochirality, and knowing this can help scientists better understand the origin of life.

This study has been published in the March 2015 issue of Nature Communications and is already receiving worldwide notice. Tianbo Liu, the leader of the research team, made this comment,“We show that homochirality, or the manner in which molecules select other like molecules to form larger assemblies, may not be as mysterious as we imagined.”

Supporting Liu’s research based on the behavior of similar molecules to bind is another research study published on March 16, 2015 in Nature Chemistry. This study explains that RNA and its origins also account for early life.

Amino acids, nucleic acids, and lipids are all essential components of life that could have been produced by these simple compounds Liu’s team researched. These essential compounds may be responsible for the earliest development of the planet which would hypothetically lead to the creation of life.

John Sutherland, University of Cambridge, also adds that one of the most necessary elements required to form life, RNA, might have formed on its own within the environment on early Earth.

“[This research] proposes for the first time a scenario by which almost all of the essential building blocks for life could be assembled in one geological setting,” said Jack Szostak, a molecular biologist and researcher of life origins at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Although this information does excite the scientific community, it cannot yet prove that life came about in this exact way. It is still a remarkable step in understanding origins of life and events that took place billions of years in our past.

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