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The origin of RNA

A fundamental but elusive step in the early evolution of life on Earth has been replicated in a laboratory.

Researchers synthesized the basic ingredients of RNA, a molecule from which the simplest self-replicating structures are made. Until now, they couldn’t explain how these ingredients might have formed.


No matter how they combined the ingredients — a sugar, a phosphate, and one of four different nitrogenous molecules, or nucleobases — ribonucleotides just wouldn’t form. Sutherland’s team took a different approach “and successfully synthesized RNA” in a laboratory conditions resembled those of the life-originating “warm little pond”.


Life’s First Spark Re-Created in the Laboratory [Wired]

Powner MW, Gerland B, Sutherland JD. Synthesis of activated pyrimidine ribonucleotides in prebiotically plausible conditions. Nature. 2009 May 14;459(7244):239-42. [PubMed][Nature]