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UGA researchers shed light on ancient origin of life
Date:3/7/2013

a," Whitman said. "Learning that it can change in the archaea suggest that ability to make DNA formed late in the evolution of life. Possibly, there may be unrecognized differences in DNA biosynthesis the eukaryotes or bacteria as well."

Other essential genes in these archaea are necessary for methane production. Methanogensis, or the process of making methane gas, is how these microorganisms make energy for life.

"Humans burn glucose and reduce oxygen to water, these guys burn hydrogen gas and reduce CO2 to methane," Whitman explained.

Methanogenesis requires six vitamins not commonly found in other organisms. Understanding how these vitamins are made and how they are involved in the process of changing carbon dioxide to methane sheds light on developing new and better processes for methane production for fuel.

"This was a general investigation, but there are many questions it can answer, like possibly making methane better or more efficiently," Whitman said.

The study yielded many other important results.

"We found 121 proteins that are essential for this organism that we know nothing about," Sarmiento said. "This finding asks questions about their functions and the specific roles that they are playing."

"We are starting to get some insights about how this organism was actually formed," Sarmiento said. "There is a lot of information and it is interesting because it gives insights into a complete domain of life."


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Contact: William Whitman
whitman@uga.edu
706-542-4219
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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