Science Daily has some interesting news about origins of life research. The research concerns the origins of adenine:
“Numerous experiments have demonstrated that amino acids, nucleotides, carbohydrates and other essential compounds form under simulated primitive Earth conditions,” the authors write in their paper.
Remarkably, a solution of highly poisonous cyanide in ammonia, frozen solid in a refrigerator for 25 years, produced adenine, a necessary component of life. A substantial amount of adenine also was formed in a high-temperature experiment designed to simulate early volcano-like environments. But the question is how.
The Georgia researchers arrived at an answer by solving a series of key riddles. They worked out the processes in which five cyanide molecules might combine to form adenine under terrestrial conditions. Their predictions are based on extensive computations of sequences of reaction steps along possible mechanistic routes.
“Finding a viable, thermodynamically feasible, step-by-step mechanism that can account for the formation of adenine was far from straightforward,” the authors said. “Our report provides a more detailed understanding of some of the chemical process involved in chemical evolution, and a partial answer to the fundamental question of molecular biogenesis. Our investigation should trigger similar investigations of the abiotic formation of the remaining nucleic acid bases as well as other biologically relevant molecules.”
The research itself is being published in PNAS