Freeze-thaw cycles on Earth triggered life, new study claims

RT, May 8

British scientists have discovered that a series of rapid frosts and thaws could have been a “vital spark” for life to originate on Earth. They now believe that living cells naturally evolved from a biochemical soup at the early days of our planet.

A group of researchers from the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge found out that simple forms of DNA assemble themselves from small biochemical building blocks when repeatedly frozen and thawed, Chemistry World reports.

The latest study shows that, under certain conditions, short fragments of RNA – a type of single-strand DNA – can form long chains similar to enzymes that, according to many scientists’ beliefs, could have triggered the first biochemical reactions eventually leading to the emergence of living cells.


“To the best of our knowledge this is the first time that complex ribozymes (long RNA chains) have been assembled from RNA pieces short enough to be prebiotically plausible,” Mutschler said.

“Our work indicates that very primitive assemblers might have been present in the original pool of short RNAs created by prebiotic chemistry and could bootstrap themselves towards more complex catalytic functions by the formation of assembly networks.”

UK researches published the results of their study in the journal Nature Chemistry and it is already being hailed as a breakthrough in understanding a key step for the evolution of life.

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