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Earth

Chemists May Have Found the ‘Missing Link’ to the First Life on Earth

The search for the ancient chemical origins of life has a new candidate — a multitasking enzyme that may have set the evolutionary ball rolling.

Published On 11/09/2017
10:41 PM EST
F F our billion years ago, Earth was covered in a watery sludge swarming with primordial molecules, gases, and minerals — nothing that biologists would recognize as alive. Then somehow, out of that prebiotic stew emerged the first critical building blocks — proteins, sugars, amino acids, cell walls — that would combine over the next billion years to form the first specks of life on the planet.
Left to right: Subhendu Bhowmik, Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy, Clémentine Gibard, Kim, Eun-Kyong, Megha Karki | Scripps Research Institute
Phosphorylation of the three classes of prebiological molecules produces the corresponding higher-order structures, oligonucleotides, peptides, and vesicles. | Scirpps Research Institute