Seeking the ‘secret ingredient’ that led to life on Earth. Researchers may have discovered it

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
lh early rna free
Credit: Richard Bizley

Think of the RNA world as a pot of gazpacho. We prepare ingredients and then stir them into a single pot, chill the liquid (essential, as Earth’s primordial temperatures could have been just above freezing) and then, voila! RNA strands made of four nucleotides (the individual pieces of RNA and DNA): cytosine (C), guanine (G), adenine (A) and uracil (U), emerge. 

Scientists provided the first optimal recipe to make half of the RNA set, the Cs and the Us, in 2009. But since then, scientists have struggled to experimentally generate enough of their A and G counterparts to create a complete and realistic recipe for making whole strands of RNA.

Related article:  Humans vs. apes: Women are the secret factor explaining how we evolved to populate the world

[Researcher Jack] Szostak took a counter-intuitive approach – adding everything but the kitchen sink – to formulate his new recipe. He based his experiment on a 2018 study that demonstrated the standard A, G, C, and U mixture can be produced by stirring in a totally different ingredient, known as arabinonucleic acids (ANA). 

[ANAs] would significantly increase the rate of RNA synthesis and stability in the environment of a primordial Earth. Szostak’s unusual addition to his recipe likely became the “secret ingredient” to making the most plausible RNA-filled gazpacho to date. 

Read the original post

Outbreak Featured
Infographic: Gene transfer mystery — How 'antifreeze' genes jumped from one species to another without sex

Infographic: Gene transfer mystery — How ‘antifreeze’ genes jumped from one species to another without sex

It isn’t surprising... that herrings and smelts, two groups of fish that commonly roam the northernmost reaches of the Atlantic ...
a bee covered in pollen x

Are GMOs and pesticides threatening bees?

First introduced in 1995, neonicotinoids ...
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

* indicates required
Email Lists
glp menu logo outlined

Get news on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.