Navigation Links
Avalanche of reactions at the origin of life
Date:1/19/2012

Volcanic-hydrothermal flow channels offer a chemically unique environment, which at first glance appears hostile to life. It is defined by cracks in the crust of the earth, through which water flows, laden with volcanic gases are contacting a diversity of minerals. And yet it is precisely this extreme environment, where the two mechanisms could have emerged, which are at the root of all life: The multiplication of biomolecules (reproduction) and the emergence of new biomolecules on the basis of previously formed biomolecules (evolution).

At the outset of this concatenation of reactions that led eventually to the formation of cellular forms of life there are only a few amino acids, which are formed from volcanic gases by mineral catalysis. Akin to a domino stone that triggers a whole avalanche, these first biomolecules stimulate not only their own further synthesis but also the production of wholly new biomolecules. "In this manner life begins by necessity in accordance with pre-established laws of chemistry and in a pre-determined direction", declares Gnter Wchtershuser, honorary professor for evolutionary biochemistry at the University of Regensburg. He developed the mechanism of a self-generating metabolism theoretically, alas, an experimental demonstration has been lacking so far.

Now, scientists around Claudia Huber and Wolfgang Eisenreich, at the Chair of Biochemistry in the Department of Chemistry at the TUM in close cooperation with Wchtershuser, managed for the first time to demonstrate experimentally the possibility of such a self-stimulating mechanism. A catalyst consisting of compounds of the transition metals nickel, cobalt or iron has the lead role in these reactions. It provides not only for the formation of the first biomolecules, but it also initiates the concatenation of reactions. The reason: The biomolecules just newly formed from the volcanic gases engage the center of the transition metal catalyst to enable further chemical reactions bringing forth wholly new biomolecules. "This coupling between the catalyst and an organic reaction product is the first step", explains Wchtershuser. "Life arises, if subsequently a whole cascade of further couplings takes place, and this primordial life leads eventually to the formation of genetic material and of the first cells".

The scientists simulated in their experiments the conditions of volcanic-hydrothermal flow channels and established an aqueous-organometallic system that produces a whole suite of different biomolecules, among them the amino acids glycin and alanin. Here the carbon source was provided by a cyano compound and the reducing agent by carbon monoxide. Nickel compounds turned out to be the most effective catalysts in these experiments. The scientists then added the products glycin and alanin to another system, that generated again two new biomolecules. The result: The two amino acids increased the productivity oft he second system by a factor of five.

In future experiments the scientists intend to recreate more precisely the conditions of volcanic-hydrothermal systems, wherein life could have arisen billions of years ago. "For this purpose we simulate first certain stages in the development of a volcanic-hydrothermal flow system in order to determine essential parameters", explains Wchtershuser. "Only thereafter we may engage in a rational construction of a flow reactor".

The results of the scientists around Wchtershuser and Eisenreich show that an origin and evolution of life in hot water of volcanic flow ducts is feasible. The results reveal advantages of the theory compared to other approaches. Within the flow ducts temperature, pressure and pH change along the flow path, and thereby a graded spectrum of conditions is offered that is appropriate for all stages of early evolution up to the formation of genetic material (RNA/DNA).

The most important property of the system is its autonomy: As opposed to the notion of a cool prebiotic both, the first metabolism was not dependent on accidental events or an accumulation of essential components over thousands of years. As soon as the first domino stone is toppled, the others will follow automatically. The origin of life proceeds along definite trajectories, pre-established by the rules of chemistry a chemically determined process giving rise to the tree of all forms of life.


'/>"/>
Contact: Dr. Andreas Battenberg
battenberg@zv.tum.de
49-892-891-0510
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. UCLA physicists control chemical reactions mechanically
2. New software to measure emotional reactions to Web
3. Chemist stitches up speedier chemical reactions
4. Key enzyme discovered to be master regulator in protein-protein reactions
5. Sorting device for analyzing biological reactions puts the power of a lab in a researcher’s pocket
6. Common chemotherapy drug triggers fatal allergic reactions
7. Newly discovered reactions from an old drug may lead to new antibiotics
8. Researchers shed new light on catalyzed reactions
9. NEI awards new grant to study the biological origins of eye allergies
10. Focus on glaucoma origins continues path toward potential cure
11. 50 million year old cricket and katydid fossils hint at the origins of insect hearing
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/8/2016)... PRAGUE, Czech Republic , February 8, 2016 ... first EU-regulated global payment platform which presents innovation ... Voice Biometrics Authentication feature called VoiceKey. --> ... payment platform which presents innovation for clients, comfort ... feature called VoiceKey. --> Worldcore ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... 4, 2016 --> --> ... M (105.0), up 1,187% compared with fourth quarter of 2014. ... 517.6 M (loss: 30.0). Earnings per share increased to SEK ... 537.4 M (neg: 74.7). , --> ... to SEK 2,900.5 M (233.6), up 1,142% compared with 2014. ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... 3, 2016 ... the "Emotion Detection and Recognition Market ... Others), Software Tools (Facial Expression, Voice Recognition ... Regions - Global forecast to 2020" ... http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/d8zjcd/emotion_detection ) has announced the addition ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... New York (PRWEB) , ... February 11, 2016 ... ... analytical instruments for more than 150 years, continues today to pursue the highest ... its line of analytical instruments: the AR9 Refractometer and the AR5 Refractometer. ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... , February 10, 2016 Early-career researchers ... Peru , Uganda and ... work in health and nutrition   Indonesia , ... Uganda and Yemen are being honored ... epidemiology. They are also celebrated for mentoring young women scientists who are ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... Tarrytown, New York, and New York, New York (PRWEB) , ... ... ... Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) today announced that ... discover and develop new vaccines and immunotherapies for infectious diseases and cancer. ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Benchmark Research, a fully-integrated network of ... principal investigators (PI) to the roles of Chief Medical Officer, Clinical Research and ... Chu, a Benchmark Research PI in the Austin office, will assume the role ...
Breaking Biology Technology: