Life's building blocks may have formed in interstellar clouds

Life's building blocks may have formed in interstellar clouds
An inside look of an ultra-high vacuum reaction chamber that simulates chemical reactions in an interstellar cloud environment. Credit: Hokkaido University

An experiment shows that one of the basic units of life—nucleobases—could have originated within giant gas clouds interspersed between the stars.

Essential building blocks of DNA, compounds called nucleobases, have been detected for the first time in a simulated environment mimicking gaseous that are found interspersed between stars. The finding, published in the journal Nature Communications, brings us closer to understanding the origins of life on Earth.

"This result could be key to unraveling fundamental questions for humankind, such as what existed during the formation of the solar system and how they contributed to the birth of life on Earth," says Yasuhiro Oba of Hokkaido University's Institute of Low Temperature Science.

Scientists have already detected some of the basic organic molecules necessary for the beginnings of life in comets, asteroids, and in interstellar molecular clouds—giant gaseous clouds dispersed between stars. It is thought that these molecules could have reached Earth through meteorite impacts some 4 billion years ago, providing key ingredients for the chemical cocktail that gave rise to life. Learning how these molecules formed is vital to understanding the origins of life.

The basic structural unit of DNA and RNA is called a nucleotide, and is composed of a , a sugar, and a phosphate group. Previous studies mimicking the expected conditions in interstellar molecular clouds have detected the presence of sugar and phosphate, but not of nucleobases.

Life's building blocks may have formed in interstellar clouds
The fundamental nucleobases detected in a simulated interstellar cloud environment. Credit: Hokkaido University

Now, Yasuhiro Oba and colleagues at Hokkaido University, Kyushu University, and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) have used advanced to detect the fundamental nucleobases in a simulated interstellar cloud environment.

The team conducted their experiments in an ultra-high vacuum reaction chamber. A gaseous mixture of water, , ammonia, and methanol was continuously supplied onto a cosmic-dust analogue at a temperature of -263 degrees Celsius. Two deuterium discharge lamps attached to the chamber supplied vacuum ultraviolet light to induce chemical reactions. The process led to the formation of an icy film on the dust analogue inside the chamber.

The team used a high-resolution mass spectrometer and a high-performance liquid chromatograph to analyze the product that formed on the substrate after warming it to room temperature. Recent advances in these technological tools allowed them to detect the presence of the nucleobases cytosine, uracil, thymine, adenine, xanthine, and hypoxanthine. They also detected , which are the building blocks of proteins, and several kinds of dipeptide, or a dimer of amino acid, in the same product.

The team suspects that past experiments simulating interstellar molecular cloud environments would have produced nucleobases, but that the analytical tools used were not sensitive enough to detect them in complex mixtures.

"Our findings suggest that the processes we reproduced could lead to the formation of the molecular precursors of life," says Yasuhiro Oba. "The results could improve our understanding of the early stages of chemical evolution in space."


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Meteorite impacts can create DNA building blocks

More information: Yasuhiro Oba et al. Nucleobase synthesis in interstellar ices, Nature Communications (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-12404-1
Journal information: Nature Communications

Citation: Life's building blocks may have formed in interstellar clouds (2019, September 27) retrieved 17 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-09-life-blocks-interstellar-clouds.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
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Sep 27, 2019
Regarding the UV light-source, this article should be compared with the following's abstract:

Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere

February 2001, Volume 31, Issue 1–2, pp 167–183 |
Astronomical Sources of Circularly Polarized Light and the Origin of Homochirality
Jeremy Bailey

https://link.spri...51425919

This almost certainly kills two birds with one stone: chemical evolution started extraterrestrially, and likely extra-solarly (if that's an adverb); its exclusive L-chirality of the amino acids entail a UV energy-source. There's no way the process was initiated in pools of water on earth or around hydrothermal vents or deep in the earth.

Right-polarized UV selectively destroyed the D-isomers, leaving only the L-counterparts as participants in the amino acid inventory at the core of all livings things' protein component.

Sep 28, 2019
There's no way the process was initiated in pools of water on earth or around hydrothermal vents or deep in the earth.


There is all the way in the world, since it is the mainstream theory, well supported by biology (phylogenetics) and geology both.

Ease of biochemical production transfer to geology, as we well know (organics in asteroids, Mars, Titan, Enceladus). I would rather deem any ideas of local chirality in one biochemical type of many a rejection test of the need for external biochemicals. Why biological preference for L handed* amino acids, but independently for D handed sugars and generic DNA to boot? And while metabolism today prefer L amino acids so no filters needed, the tRNA & rRNA core genetic machinery show filters for L: the UCA lineage evolved in an environment that produced both L & R handed amino acids.

* I am a bit nit picky here, but AAs can have several chiral centers, and it may still not affect opto- or chemo-stereotype. Better a generic term.

Sep 28, 2019
- cdt-

I don't have the reference on frozen in handedness filtering handy, so if needed I have to get back to that. But it looks like the typical contingent evolutionary choice, the lineages that started filter environmentally or competitively produced amino acids during translation produced more useful proteins - and same for sugars and later DNA. (More use of passive transport into and in cells.) And one of the lineages was more successful.

Same with archaea membranes by the way. It is still a wide open question but it *looks* like the clade started out with the typical bacterial type membrane. But the likely newer lipids won out in them and went extinct among bacteria, while archaea lost the bacterial lipids. Just the way evolution goes. 99+ % of species has gone extinct and many traits as well: the survivors are lucky by accident and by "construction" (selection).

Sep 28, 2019
I forgot to add that all abiotic mechanisms likely contributed to the hydrothermal vent evolution we all know and love. But the productivity of the environment was everywhere, besides the interstellar, interplanetary, accretion, and vent contributions there were massive atmospheric (UV, ligthning) and volcanic sources too. As long has the early non-life/half-life cells were leaky and/or passive transporters and/or not yet self reliant for biochemicals they used everything coming their way.

Phylogeny show us that it was mostly ocean vent environment (pH, heat shock protein ancestors) since that is where early evolution set up shop.

Moreover, when I think about it: it seems to me the Moon formation meant that the ocean reformed in 1 kyrs and started to cool the new global magma ocean. So the earlier biochemicals likely had perished anyway. Life evolved before much more had time to come in (much less impactor mass flow at the time).

Sep 28, 2019
I forgot to add that all abiotic mechanisms likely contributed to the hydrothermal vent evolution we all know and love. But the productivity of the environment was everywhere, besides the interstellar, interplanetary, accretion, and vent contributions there were massive atmospheric (UV, ligthning) and volcanic sources too. As long has the early non-life/half-life cells were leaky and/or passive transporters and/or not yet self reliant for biochemicals they used everything coming their way.

Phylogeny show us that it was mostly ocean vent environment (pH, heat shock protein ancestors) since that is where early evolution set up shop.
says Torbjorn (partly)

Torbjorn isn't taking any chances of possibly omitting anything. So he includes ALMOST everything, except for the intervention of the Creator God to actually BE the life-bringer to all of these chemical and geological "mix-and-match" possibilities. That's due to his fear of "religions" that had nothing to do with it.

Sep 28, 2019
""Our findings suggest that the processes we reproduced could lead to the formation of the molecular precursors of life," says Yasuhiro Oba. "The results could improve our understanding of the early stages of chemical evolution in space.""

There are many, many ways possible, and ingredients and physical conditions available to form the appearances of what could become life forms. There isn't only one way, as these researchers have thought. The crux of the batter is: what TYPE of life forms are to be made, AND the medium from which those life forms are to be rising from. As the Matter/Energy in the interstellar spaces come together to form planets, not all elements are present in each and every planet that forms. Some have it all, and others have only a small percentage, and most have very little that could combine to form the appearance that can be constructed into a viable life form.
But always, always nothing comes of all those molecules UNLESS they're endowed by the Creator.

Sep 28, 2019


Torbjorn isn't taking any chances of possibly omitting anything. So he includes ALMOST everything, except for the intervention of the Creator God


Yep. That would be because he is not a superstitious loon. God? Lol. Take your religion BS away from this forum. It is part of the s**t the mods are supposed to be trashing. Go pray somewhere. A busy motorway would be favourite.

Sep 28, 2019
The crux of the **batter** is: what TYPE of life forms are to be made


Fish & Chips by the ^%$&ing sound of it!

Sep 28, 2019
Neither UV, gamma rays, solar or cosmic radiation, thunder and lightning, nor any other burst of Energy can cause a medium to form a viable, living, motile life form with all of what a life form is and does, without first being MADE to DO these things BY the Creator.
IF these researchers are somehow able to take a few chemicals and have them congeal into some sort of form that resembles a cell - it is STILL not alive, UNLESS they unwitingly included a living cell in their batch of chemicals that were favourable for growing more cells. But that is not creating life. It is only growing something that already had its roots in a previously living cell.

Sep 28, 2019


Torbjorn isn't taking any chances of possibly omitting anything. So he includes ALMOST everything, except for the intervention of the Creator God


Yep. That would be because he is not a superstitious loon. God? Lol. Take your religion BS away from this forum. It is part of the s**t the mods are supposed to be trashing. Go pray somewhere. A busy motorway would be favourite.
says Castrovagina

Of course Torbjorn is a superstitious loon. He claims to hate religions for whatever his reasons. But it isn't religion that created the first life forms on Earth. And yet Torbjorn thinks that it is religion that is the source of the Creator. Religions have nothing to do with the actual Creation.

Sep 28, 2019
Torbjorn has his own religion that he believes in and follows, which is the religion of self-preservation in the face of science slowly coming to the conclusion that there is much more to the story of how a bunch of chemicals could possibly come together to build a life form under the hostile conditions of boiling water. This is their dilemma. Particularly when it is claimed that the oceans are warming now and corals are supposedly dying.

Sep 29, 2019
Torbjorn isn't taking any chances of possibly omitting anything. So he includes ALMOST everything, except for the intervention of the Creator God to actually BE the life-bringer to all of these chemical and geological "mix-and-match" possibilities. That's due to his fear of "religions" that had nothing to do with it.
"God did it" is a non argument because, for starters, it rules out any need for research ("God did it so why bother?"). Second it doesn't explain at what stage exactly God intervened. What does "life-bringer" even mean? Do you mean your "Creator God" facilitated the transition from a sterile geochemistry to basic biochemistry? From basic biochemistry to early microbial life and then let evolution run its course? Or later?

As you read in the article elements of basic biochemistry have already been found in space and now even synthesized, so it doesn't need God. What's left is the crucial next stage, from early biochemistry to simple microbial life. Then .. cont..

Sep 29, 2019
@Scientology_Sperm_Unit thinks it's Xenu.

Sep 29, 2019
cont .. Then life will have been proven to emerge via abiogenesis, while evolution already explains everything after microbial life. It appears that the origin of life is the last refuge of "somewhat reasonable creationists", now that the theory of evolution is accepted by most of you (except ... Young Earth Creationists). It will not last for long though. Not too many steps are missing in the full biochemical route toward the formation of a simple anaerobic cyanobacterium or archaea microbe.

By the way, why on Earth would Torbjorn be afraid of religions? Not taking them into account (because, let's keep in mind, this is a science & technology website, not a theological one) because as I explained above they can only add "God did it" non arguments is quite distinct from being afraid of them.

Sep 29, 2019
Torbjorn has his own religion that he believes in and follows, which is the religion of self-preservation in the face of science slowly coming to the conclusion that there is much more to the story of how a bunch of chemicals could possibly come together to build a life form under the hostile conditions of boiling water.
Boiling water is "hostile" to you, me and many other life forms. However extremophile microbes can tolerate it just fine. In fact many such microbes live very close to boiling water (or *in* it) because it's energy and associated minerals attract them.

Some extremophile microbes even tolerate 200+ °C hot water which does not boil to the very high pressure at the bottom of the ocean. I am referring to oceanic vents in case you did not understand. At a larger scale even tardigrades, which can reach ~1 mm, do not break a sweat with boiling water.

Sep 29, 2019
Torbjorn isn't taking any chances of possibly omitting anything. So he includes ALMOST everything, except for the intervention of the Creator God to actually BE the life-bringer to all of these chemical and geological "mix-and-match" possibilities.

SEU instead of just criticizing the poster, I believe you'll find it more rewarding, questioning the post. For in so doing, you may just get a glimpse into, how your Creator achieved their purpose.

Sep 29, 2019
@SEU

When is your mission to observe us earthling complete?
Is there any way I can help to speed it up so you can go back home?
Where is home?

Sep 29, 2019
@SEU

When is your mission to observe us earthling complete?
Is there any way I can help to speed it up so you can go back home?
Where is home?


Home is a large building, offset from the road by some distance. And a decent distance from other buildings. The only clue to SEU's existence occurs when he is posting on here. In such circumstances, if one is close-by, and listens carefully, one can hear the calls of, "Nurse, nurse! He's out of bed again!"

Sep 29, 2019
This kind of thing is a joke.

Nucleotides are produced by metabolism. If they were not, then life would never have persisted. Moreover the mere existence of nucleotides is not enough. All the components of cells have to be concentrated enough to undergo the kind of chemistry (esp polymerisation) we associate with life. And all the ingredients have to be replenished fast enough to sustain that concentration indefinitely (4 billion years so far).

Now making nucleotides is difficult because amino-acids and sugars typically form in quite different chemical environments. But there are some suggestions of a direct line synthesis without the awkwardly incompatible intermediates. I think the jury is still out on how life did this initially. But we can get organics simply by bubbling methane through acid iron-rich seawater.

But it all had to happen in the same place and be highly repeatable. That is non-negotiable.

Sep 29, 2019
This kind of thing is a joke.

Nucleotides are produced by metabolism..


They are not claiming to have produced nucleotides. They have produced nucleobases. The other ingredients that form nucleotides are also found in molecular clouds. Ergo, all of them could be delivered to a planet by accretion, cometary impacts, etc. They are not commenting on what happens once they get to the planet.

Sep 29, 2019
So, once again, it is plasma processes which creates these conditions and building blocks.

Sep 29, 2019
So, once again, it is plasma processes which creates these conditions and building blocks.


UV light. We've kind of known about that for a very long time. Why is this news to you?

Sep 29, 2019
Despite the fact this was all explained in the article, they're not getting it. Each link in DNA and RNA is comprised of a nucleobase, a sugar, and a phosphate group. The sugar is called "ribose," and the phosphate group links one ribose molecule to the next. The nucleobase is linked to one and only one ribose. The angle of linking of the ribose and the phosphate group controls the famous "spiral staircase" helical form of these nucleic acids.

A nucleotide therefore is the combination of a nucleobase, a ribose molecule, and one phosphate group. No one expects to see this combination in any molecular cloud.

Sep 29, 2019
So getting back to the article, we had detected ribose and phosphate groups in molecular clouds, and abiogenesis also requires the nucleobases, and we had not seen those. These folks have found them, quite convincingly. This means that the chemical components of DNA and RNA exist in molecular clouds, and may very well have already existed on Earth before there was life.

That's the point. Now abiogenesis doesn't have to generate nucleobases; they're primordial, as far as Earth is concerned, meaning they existed before Earth did.

Sep 29, 2019
The angle of linking of the ribose and the phosphate group controls the famous "spiral staircase" helical form of these nucleic acids.

It is the electromagnetic force that is primarily responsible for the helical appearance of these strains, just as it is on larger scales;
https://lppfusion...-plasma/

Sep 29, 2019
I don't think @cantthink quite understands angles of molecular bonding.

Apparently it was kept in a dark closet and didn't have Legos, Tinker Toys, or an Erector Set.

Just sayin'.

Sep 29, 2019
I don't think @cantthink quite understands angles of molecular bonding.

Apparently it was kept in a dark closet and didn't have Legos, Tinker Toys, or an Erector Set.

Just sayin'.

These are electromagnetic forces in action here.

Sep 29, 2019
In DNA? Nope.

Sep 29, 2019
The crux of the batter...

LMAO.
This entire thread is just one tedious regurgitation after another, of the status-quo, "battered" in the misguided notion that this is knowledge. Of course, for good measure, the sprinklings of insults from the usual ignoramuses, must be added. That must be the recipe for life.

Sep 29, 2019
Torbjorn isn't taking any chances of possibly omitting anything. So he includes ALMOST everything, except for the intervention of the Creator God to actually BE the life-bringer... That's due to his fear
"God did it" is a non argument because, for starters, it rules out any need for research ("God did it so why bother?"). Second it doesn't explain at what stage exactly God intervened. What does "life-bringer" even mean? Do you mean your "Creator God" facilitated the transition from a sterile geochemistry to basic biochemistry? From basic biochemistry to early microbial life and then let evolution run its course? Or later?

As you read in the article elements of basic biochemistry have already been found in space and now even synthesized, so it doesn't need God. What's left is the crucial next stage, from early biochemistry to simple microbial life. Then .. cont..
says Sahstar

It doesn't rule out any need for research since these were unknown until now.
-contd-

Sep 29, 2019
-contd-
says Sahstar
"Do you mean your "Creator God" facilitated the transition from a sterile geochemistry to basic biochemistry?"

Did you think that the sterile geochemistry could have created the Events, Actions, and the right Conditions for life to occur all by itself? Under hostile conditions?
"it doesn't explain at what stage exactly God intervened" is meaningless, since nobody was alive at the time to take notes.

Sterile geochemistry > basic biochemistry > early microbial life (in the seas) > evolution (in the seas) > various life forms that continued to evolve.
And yes, all of the elements that are required as the basic building blocks for life are available and found in interstellar space - any place where such required elements are to be found. They were found in the seas of Earth, and were gathered together for the prime purpose of creating life.
Can they create actual LIFE out of such elements/molecules in the lab? Of course not, as I have explained earlier.

Sep 29, 2019
As I/we don't subscribe to ANY kind of manmade religion(s) and never have, those who continue to tell lies about us being scientologists and other dastardly lies will find that "they" were wrong and that 'their' lying about others is not tolerated. He will be punished for his evil lies at the right time.

But as to the creation of the first biological life in the seas of Earth, the conditions were optimum for the creation of single cells. All the required elements/molecules had accreted together and only one thing had to be done to start the process of generation. Later, the process of Biogenesis was incorporated into the RNA of the first living cells and those were the progenitors of the next generations who carried the DNA of their ancestors.
There are life forms that live in close proximity to hot underwater volcanic vents and they thrive there. But notice that their forms haven't changed in ~2 billion Earth years. They are still the same as they were and will not change.

Sep 29, 2019
Scientific research is an offshoot of the Creation, by the way. The Creation itself was a scientific experiment. So is Philosophy - the questions of WHY. And Science explains HOW.

Sep 29, 2019
Sure, @Xenubro_Sperm_Unit. Whatever.

Sep 29, 2019
The crux of the batter...

LMAO.
This entire thread is just one tedious regurgitation after another, of the status-quo, "battered" in the misguided notion that this is knowledge. Of course, for good measure, the sprinklings of insults from the usual ignoramuses, must be added. That must be the recipe for life.
says antigoracle

I was going to say, "the Crux of the Biscuit is in the Apostrophe", but instead I decided to go with "batter".
I must agree that the context of the article is really nothing new. Space has Matter/Energy floating in it, so of course, the elements/molecules/particles can be found in space. Why not, since they are also found floating around in the Solar System. Dust and gas, matter and energies. There is nothing new. And yet, these folks seem to think of everything as never having been known of before. Well surprise, surprise.
LOL

Sep 30, 2019
well well and another well - I see that theghostofotto1923 has downvoted me now to the tune of minus 2006. Otto follows me into each phorum and waits for me to comment, then gives me a -1 and then uses his sock pups to vote me down again. Now and then there is someone else doing it, such as Strumpy and/or Schneib. HeloMenelo does it too.
Do I care? Not at all. In fact, I am amused as I can feel their hate through the keyboard (electrically). It is palpable.

The building blocks of life that are found in outer space is (if nobody else has realised it yet), the reason WHY there are the OTHER life forms in the Universe.
Why, they are also living on their own planets IN THE MILKY WAY. Those of you who just hate the idea that you are not alone in this Universe are the "snowflakes", the "fraidycats", the ones who refuse to believe that there could ever BE someone who is not either a human or animal who have come to visit the Earth and/or live here. Perhaps they are here to take over?


Sep 30, 2019
No sane scientist would believe the title, "Life's building blocks may have formed in interstellar clouds" for an instant. It is so far out of rational thinking, logic, and chance, that to even entertain the idea seriously shows how irrational that person is. These debates will go nowhere.

Sep 30, 2019
No sane scientist would believe the title, "Life's building blocks may have formed in interstellar clouds" for an instant. It is so far out of rational thinking, logic, and chance, that to even entertain the idea seriously shows how irrational that person is. These debates will go nowhere.


Errrm, the scientists who did the study are quite sane. And some of these building blocks are known from observation.

Sep 30, 2019
@Brat, they got these new-fangled things called spectrographs. They can tell what chemicals are present using them. But since you never finished high school you wouldn't know about that, because mommy didn't teach you about it at home school.

Sep 30, 2019
@SEU

2007 down votes now.

Sep 30, 2019
Now let's go through it again because the liar denier crank trolls are trying to mess up the record again.

Astrophysicists detect chemicals with spectrographs (also called spectroscopes) by the spectral lines they show when broad-spectrum light shines through a molecular cloud. They had (up until this report) detected ribose and phosphate groups, but not nucleobases. These are two of the three necessary components of RNA and DNA.

Until now, because the nucleobases could not be found in molecular clouds, it was assumed that they must have been created on forming planets, like Earth long ago.

But now, these astrophysicists have found the spectral signatures of nucleobases in molecular clouds, we know that all three of the components to make RNA and DNA are present in molecular clouds. Therefore, all that's needed is to assemble them. This is a major step forward in theories of the abiogenic origin of life, and makes all the jebus whiners look like the idiots they are.

Sep 30, 2019
In short, liar denier crank trolls who think jebus made everything, you're wrong: the universe made it by natural processes. There's no more arguing about abiogenesis; it wasn't some "random process" that you can make up lies about, it was already done before Earth existed.

Get over it.

Sep 30, 2019
...nucleobases could not be found in molecular clouds, it was assumed that they must have been CREATED ON FORMING PLANETS, LIKE EARTH LONG AGO.

......components to make RNA and DNA are present in molecular clouds. THEREFORE, ALL THAT'S NEEDED IS TO ASSEMBLE THEM. ....and makes all the jebus whiners look like the idiots they are.

Oh DaSchitebo, there you go again, blindly regurgitating science in the misguided notion that it makes you look knowledgeable. Because according to these scientist you are just ignorant - https://blogs.sci...m-space/
1/ "Our early atmosphere was inhospitable for creating organic molecules, while our oceans run the risk of also producing only three nucleobases"

2/ "..the presence of only three nucleobases in the meteorite samples, but they leave a clear conundrum: if our genetic code needs five nucleobases, where did the missing two partners come from?"

Sep 30, 2019
@SEU

When is your mission to observe us earthling complete?
Is there any way I can help to speed it up so you can go back home?
Where is home?
says jimmy booboo

Why do you ask? Is it your mission to help me complete MY mission? My home is far away and I fly there every so often.

Oct 01, 2019
No sane scientist would believe the title, "Life's building blocks may have formed in interstellar clouds" for an instant. It is so far out of rational thinking, logic, and chance, that to even entertain the idea seriously shows how irrational that person is. These debates will go nowhere.
says Bart_A

Life's building blocks are merely the elements/molecules that are taken from the basic Matter and Energy that is ubiquitous all over the Universe, but more so in certain regions such as within the Milky Way and many other galaxies where life exists, has existed and will exist in the future. We are talking about "BUILDING BLOCKS", not the life forms that are a result of those building blocks aka Matter/Energy. It is the rough source from which finer material was produced. And that finer material went into the making of the first living cells in the waters of Earth. Try and picture the beauty and splendour of it all.

Oct 01, 2019
@SEU

2007 down votes now.
says jimmy booboo

I know. And even more now. Not that it matters how many downvotes I get and how many upvotes you and Schneib get. There is no contest going on, and the physorg admin KNOWS WHO is doing the voting. It is apparent that those who are down voting me (and others) are doing it to try to prevent other commentators from reading my comments that may lead to their agreeing with my stance/opinions. It is similar to the Democrat Party who wants to shut everyone up who disagrees with them and their politics. YOU are voted up because your opinions and commentaries all agree with theirs.
Perhaps you are Schneib's sock puppet.
LOL

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