Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Studying the evolution of life's building blocks

Date:
February 20, 2012
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Studying the origin of life at its building blocks offers a unique perspective on evolution, says a researcher.

Robert Root-Bernstein, physiology professor.
Credit: Photo by G.L. Kohuth

Studying the origin of life at its building blocks offers a unique perspective on evolution, says a researcher at Michigan State University.

Robert Root-Bernstein, MSU physiology professor, will answer the question of why a physiologist studies the origin of life at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Feb. 16-20 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Paleontologists study ancient life and reason that each species is a modification of the previous generation. Geneticists embrace this theory and trace the lineage of genes. Root-Bernstein wondered if there could be another level of paleontology embedded in the molecules that reflect evolution from the earliest stages of life and found in prebiotic chemistry, the study of chemical reactions that may have sparked the beginnings of life.

"By studying modules built from very simple chemicals, I'm hoping that it will lead to an understanding of a molecular paleontology in modern systems," he said. "Whether it's a human or a bacterium, we're all made from the same basic modules that have more than likely been around since the beginning of time."

For example, one aspect of Root-Bernstein's research is studying the small glucose binding sequences that occur in all protein and peptides like insulin. Focusing on these basic building blocks could provide new insights into diseases such as diabetes.

Having the characteristic of taking a nontraditional view has helped further Root-Bernstein's research.

"Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, the physiologist who discovered vitamin C, once defined discovery as seeing what everyone else sees and thinking what no one else thinks," he said. "I often find that phenomena that are obvious to other people are not obvious to me."

Root-Bernstein's ability to seek the common chemical building blocks between bacteria and humans formally known as molecular complementarity, is a distinctive view. This shared set of modules could be the basis for the evolution of the chemicals systems on which life is based, he added. It could, in fact, be the essential agent controlling evolution at every level.

"I study molecular complementarity mainly because I'm a pattern seeker, even when I was an undergraduate," Root-Bernstein said. "I hope to help answer how life evolved to take advantage of molecular complementarity so that the two concepts are virtually synonymous."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Studying the evolution of life's building blocks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120220090844.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2012, February 20). Studying the evolution of life's building blocks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120220090844.htm
Michigan State University. "Studying the evolution of life's building blocks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120220090844.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) — As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
45 Years Later, Buzz Aldrin on Walking on Moon

45 Years Later, Buzz Aldrin on Walking on Moon

AP (July 18, 2014) — Forty-five years ago Sunday, Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon. Speaking at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Aldrin described what he was thinking right before the historic walk. (July 18) Video provided by AP
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