New insights into the origin of life on Earth

Dec 11, 2006

In an advance toward understanding the origin of life on Earth, scientists have shown that parts of the Krebs cycle can run in reverse, producing biomolecules that could jump-start life with only sunlight and a mineral present in the primordial oceans.

The Krebs cycle is a series of chemical reactions of central importance in cells — part of a metabolic pathway that changes carbohydrates, fats and proteins into carbon dioxide and water to generate energy.

Scot T. Martin and Xiang V. Zhang explain that a reverse version of the cycle, which makes enzymes and other biomolecules from carbon dioxide, has been getting attention from scientists studying the origin of life. If the reverse cycle worked on a lifeless Earth, it could have produced the fundamental biochemicals needed for the development of more-advanced biological systems like RNA that could reproduce themselves.

In a report scheduled for the Dec. 13 issue of the weekly Journal of the American Chemical Society, Martin and Zhang demonstrate that three of the five chemical reactions in the reverse Krebs cycle worked and produced biomolecules on the surface of a mineral believed to have been present in the waters of the early Earth. The mineral -- sphalerite -- acted as a photocatalyst that worked with sunlight to foster the chemical reactions.

Source: American Chemical Society

Explore further: Team pioneers strategy for creating new materials

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Feds allows logging after huge California wildfire

38 minutes ago

The U.S. Forest Service has decided to allow logging on nearly 52 square miles of the Sierra Nevada burned last year in a massive California wildfire, a move contested by environmentalists.

Apple to unveil 'iWatch' on September 9

59 minutes ago

Apple will unveil an "iWatch" in September with the maker of the iPhone finally embarking on its much-rumored foray into wearable computing, technology news website Re/code said Wednesday.

New study charts the global invasion of crop pests

6 hours ago

Many of the world's most important crop-producing countries will be fully saturated with pests by the middle of the century if current trends continue, according to a new study led by the University of Exeter.

Recommended for you

Team pioneers strategy for creating new materials

10 hours ago

Making something new is never easy. Scientists constantly theorize about new materials, but when the material is manufactured it doesn't always work as expected. To create a new strategy for designing materials, ...

Plug n' Play protein crystals

16 hours ago

Almost a hundred years ago in 1929 Linus Pauling presented the famous Pauling's Rules to describe the principles governing the structure of complex ionic crystals. These rules essentially describe how the ...

Protein glue shows potential for use with biomaterials

Aug 28, 2014

Researchers at the University of Milan in Italy have shown that a synthetic protein called AGMA1 has the potential to promote the adhesion of brain cells in a laboratory setting. This could prove helpful ...

User comments : 0