1 pointIn the beginning was the phase separation A simple mechanism could have been decisive for the development of life Date: May 23, 2018 Source: Technical University of Munich (TUM) Summary: The question of the origin of life remains one of the oldest unanswered scientific questions. A team has now shown for the first time that phase separation is an extremely efficient way of controlling the selection of chemical building blocks and providing advantages to certain molecules. Molecules in the garage The effect can also be seen externally: the initially clear solution becomes milky. The lack of water in the oil droplets is like a protection because anhydrides need water to disintegrate back into carboxylic acids. [Chemist Job] Boekhoven explains the principle of phase separation with an analogy: "Imagine an old and rusty car: Leave it outside in the rain, and it continues to rust and decomposes because rusting is accelerated by water. Put it in the garage, and it stops rusting because you separate it from the rain." In a way, a similar process occurs in the primordial soup experiment: Inside the oil droplet (garage) with the long-chain anhydride molecules there is no water, so its molecules survive longer. If the molecules compete with each other for energy, again those that can protect themselves by forming oil droplets are likelier to survive, while their competitors get hydrolyzed.
1 pointPotential 'missing link' in chemistry that led to life on Earth discovered Date: November 6, 2017 Source: Scripps Research Institute Summary: Chemists have found a compound that may have been a crucial factor in the origins of life on Earth, explains a new report. Origins-of-life researchers have hypothesized that a chemical reaction called phosphorylation may have been crucial for the assembly of three key ingredients in early life forms: short strands of nucleotides to store genetic information, short chains of amino acids (peptides) to do the main work of cells, and lipids to form encapsulating structures such as cell walls. ... TSRI chemists have now identified just such a compound: diamidophosphate (DAP). "We suggest a phosphorylation chemistry that could have given rise, all in the same place, to oligonucleotides, oligopeptides, and the cell-like structures to enclose them," said study senior author Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy, associate professor of chemistry at TSRI. "That in turn would have allowed other chemistries that were not possible before, potentially leading to the first simple, cell-based living entities."