Single reaction mixture can produce all four RNA bases

Simple chemicals can grow complex pretty quickly.

Simple chemicals can grow complex pretty quickly.

There’s a strong consensus that life on Earth got its start
through RNA, a close chemical sibling of DNA. Over the last few
decades, researchers have described how individual RNA bases can
spontaneously polymerize, forming longer chains that could
ultimately catalyze key chemical reactions, including building even
longer RNA molecules. As a result, it’s clear that RNA can perform
two functions: carrying heritable genetic information just as DNA
does and carrying out the instructions encoded by that
information.

There’s far less agreement, however, on how those RNA bases
themselves first form. These bases have a combination of one of two
types of flat, ringed structures linked to a small, ring-shaped
sugar. Over time, researchers have found sets of chemical reactions
that could start with simple chemicals likely to be found on the
early Earth and end up with one of the three more complex chemicals
needed to form RNA. But the conditions needed for these reactions
weren’t compatible, raising questions about how an RNA molecule
could ever form from these reactions.

Now, a group of chemists has figured out a way to form the
portions of RNA that give it its identity starting from a simple
set of chemicals. The work relies on materials that can easily be
provided by a volcanic environment. And driving the reactions
forward requires little more than a few wet/dry cycles.

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
Single reaction mixture can produce all four RNA bases