Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Small Molecule Interactions Were Central To The Origin Of Life

Date:
May 17, 2006
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
An important new paper argues against the widely held theory that the origin of life began with the spontaneous appearance of a large, replicating molecule such as RNA. Instead, Robert Shapiro (NYU) raises an alternative that does not depend on a "stupendously improbable accident," presenting the more plausible idea that life began within a mixture of simple organic molecules, multiplied through catalyzed reaction cycles and an external source of available energy.

In an important new paper forthcoming in the June issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology, Robert Shapiro (New York University) argues against the widely held theory that the origin of life began with the spontaneous appearance of a large, replicating molecule such as RNA. Instead, Shapiro raises an alternative that does not depend on a "stupendously improbable accident," presenting the more plausible idea that life began within a mixture of simple organic molecules, multiplied through catalyzed reaction cycles and an external source of available energy.

"The diversity of organic chemistry, with its harvest of competing, interconnected reactions, becomes an asset rather than a liability in the case of the energy-driven system," explains Shapiro. "The existence of side reaction paths can provide the network with the capacity of reacting to circumstances."

Shapiro outlines how replicator theories, though they have been supported by "prebiotic" syntheses carried out by chemists using modern apparatus and purified reagents, are highly unlikely. The creation of a molecule that can self-replicate requires the combination of diverse chemicals in a long sequence of reactions in a specific order, interspersed by complicated separations, purifications, and changes in locale.

Instead, Shapiro introduces the idea of a "driver" reaction, linked to a free energy source, that helps convert an unorganized mixture into a organized, self-regulated metabolic network.

"If we wish a more plausible origin of life, then we must work with the assumption that life began, somehow, among one of the mixtures of simple organic molecules that are produced by abiotic processes," writes Shapiro. "Nature will be instructing us, rather than we attempting to impose our schemes onto it."

Reference: Robert Shapiro "Small Molecule Interactions Were Central to the Origin of Life." The Quarterly Review of Biology, June 2006.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Small Molecule Interactions Were Central To The Origin Of Life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 May 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060517001538.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2006, May 17). Small Molecule Interactions Were Central To The Origin Of Life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060517001538.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Small Molecule Interactions Were Central To The Origin Of Life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060517001538.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

AP (July 29, 2014) Food scraps and other items left on the grounds by picnickers brings unwelcome visitors to the grounds of the world famous and popular Louvre Museum in Paris. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
London's Famed 'Gherkin' Goes on Sale for 650 Mln

London's Famed 'Gherkin' Goes on Sale for 650 Mln

AFP (July 29, 2014) London's "Gherkin" office tower, one of the landmarks on the British capital's skyline, went on sale for about 650 million ($1.1 billion, 820 million euros) on Tuesday after being placed into receivership. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tourists Disappointed to Find Rome Attractions Under Restoration

Tourists Disappointed to Find Rome Attractions Under Restoration

AFP (July 26, 2014) Tourists visiting Italy at the peak of the summer season are disappointed to find some of Rome's most famous attractions being restored and offering limited access. Duration: 01:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins