Image credit: Radio telescopes picked up the faint but unmistakable signal of acetonitrile (inset), a precursor of amino acids, in space. Credit: ATNF (image)/Sven Thorwith, MPIfR (inset)

 
March 06, 2013

Deep Space Capable of Creating Linked Pairs of Amino Acids –Essential Building Blocks of Life

A new experiment simulating conditions in deep space reveals that the complex building blocks of life could have been created on icy interplanetary dust and then carried to Earth, jump-starting life. Chemists from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Hawaii, Manoa, showed that conditions in space are capable of creating complex dipeptides – linked pairs of amino acids – that are essential building blocks shared by all living things.

The discovery opens the door to the possibility that these molecules were brought to Earth aboard a comet or possibly meteorites, catalyzing the formation of proteins (polypeptides), enzymes and even more complex molecules, such as sugars, that are necessary for life.

“It is fascinating to consider that the most basic biochemical building blocks that led to life on Earth may well have had an extraterrestrial origin,” said UC Berkeley chemist Richard Mathies, coauthor of a paper published online last week and scheduled for the March 10 print issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

Read more: Deep Space Capable of Creating Linked Pairs of Amino Acids –Essential Building Blocks of Life — The Daily Galaxy.

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