UV rays may have triggered life on Earth

June 16th, 2010 - 3:55 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, June 15 (ANI): Scientists have found that ultraviolet light may have triggered Earth’s chemistry into forming the building blocks for biology.

Researchers at Georgia Tech and the University of Roma “La Sapienza” focused on the molecule formamide, the simplest structure containing the required four building blocks of life - carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen.

According to previous studies, formamide heated in certain minerals creates most of the ingredients for ribonucleic acid (RNA), which together with DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the basic form of life. Missing from the formamide brew, however, has been guanine, one of RNA’s four critical ingredients. (The others are adenine, cytosine and uracil.) One lightning rod for guanine’s creation, scientists discovered, is ultraviolet light.

“You don’t have to have incredibly special conditions,” Discovery News quoted Georgia Tech physicist Thomas Orlando.

“A lot of people have prebiotic chemistry scenarios that are aqueous-based. In this way, water is important, but not as important as formamide. That’s a big change.”

“What we’re looking for is the chemistry that gives us the building blocks for life,” said Nicholas Hud, head of Georgia Tech’s Center for Chemical Evolution.

The findings are reported in this week’s issue of ChemBioChem. (ANI)

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