'Baterias da Natureza' podem ter ajudado a energizar as primitivas formas de vida

quarta-feira, maio 26, 2010

'Nature's Batteries' May Have Helped Power Early Lifeforms

ScienceDaily (May 25, 2010) — Researchers at the University of Leeds have uncovered new clues to the origins of life on Earth.

A space-filling molecular model of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), with hydrogen shown white, oxygen red, phosphorous orange, nitrogen turquoise, and carbon black, and with ions marked by a negative sign. 
(Credit: Courtesy of Wikipedia)

The team found that a compound known as pyrophosphite may have been an important energy source for primitive lifeforms.

There are several conflicting theories of how life on Earth emerged from inanimate matter billions of years ago -- a process known as abiogenesis.

"It's a chicken and egg question," said Dr Terry Kee of the University of Leeds, who led the research. "Scientists are in disagreement over what came first -- replication, or metabolism. But there is a third part to the equation -- and that is energy."

All living things require a continual supply of energy in order to function. This energy is carried around our bodies within certain molecules, one of the best known being ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which converts heat from the sun into a useable form for animals and plants.

At any one time, the human body contains just 250g of ATP -- this provides roughly the same amount of energy as a single AA battery. This ATP store is being constantly used and regenerated in cells via a process known as respiration, which is driven by natural catalysts called enzymes.

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Chem. Commun., 2010, 46, 3726 - 3728, DOI: 10.1039/c002689a

On the prebiotic potential of reduced oxidation state phosphorus: the H-phosphinate–pyruvate system

David E. Bryant, Katie E. R. Marriott, Stuart A. Macgregor, Colin Kilner, Matthew A. Pasek and Terence P. Kee

H-Phosphinic acid and pyruvic acid, both plausible prebiotic chemicals, react selectively in water to build structural complexity including amide bond formation under remarkably mild conditions and oxidative coupling of P1 compounds to condensed pyrophosphorus compounds.


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