Science has uncovered a lot of mysteries about life, but so far, it missed the most important part: how did it all begin in the first place? Life is so insanely complex that nobody has ever been able to create it in a laboratory – not even unicellular organisms.
Phys.org writes that researchers from Simon Fraser University have isolated an RNA polymerase enzyme through a process of in vitro evolution in the laboratory to find new answers about the origin of life.
Life started with self-replicating ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules
The scientists involved in the new study believe that life on Earth started with RNA molecules that were capable of carrying genetic information and driving chemical reactions that are essential for life. It all happened even before the evolution of DNA and proteins.
Biochemistry professor Peter Unrau explained:
This RNA polymerase has many of the features of modern protein polymerases; it was evolved to recognize an RNA promoter, and subsequently, to copy RNA processively,
He continued by saying:
What our finding implies is that similar RNA enzymes early in the evolution of life could also have manifested such sophisticated biological features.
Unrau and his team have the long-term and extremely ambitious goal of building a self-evolving system in the laboratory. The professor also admits that if they succeed, it would be a truly remarkable thing and also “something that has probably has never existed since the dawn of life on this planet.
For understanding the fundamental complexity of life, Unrau proposes to estimate what are the chances for life to exist on other planets.
Mars is a good destination to search for signs of extraterrestrial life. Since judging by the data humanity has until now, there’s no trace for aliens existing on the Red Planet, we don’t have to lose hope. NASA sent the Perseverance rover to our neighbouring rover to search for signs of alien life existing on the distant past as microbial organisms.
The new research was published in the journal Science.