Funcionamento interno -avançando com os mistérios das origens da vida: mero acaso, fortuita necessidade ou design inteligente?

quinta-feira, abril 15, 2021

Inner Workings: Making headway with the mysteries of life’s origins

Adam Mann

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PNAS April 20, 2021 118 (16) e2105383118;

Natural lakes with relatively high concentrations of phosphorous compounds, such as Mono Lake in California, may have been commonplace in the prebiotic Earth, providing the phosphorus-rich environments for biology and life to take hold. Image credit: Shutterstock/Radoslaw Lecyk.

In 1863, Charles Darwin opined in a letter to a friend that contemplating the origin of life was “mere rubbish thinking” and that “one might as well think of [the] origin of matter.” Many researchers today would agree with Darwin. And yet, whereas cosmologists know how particles, elements, and many molecules formed after the big bang, biologists still struggle to explain how inorganic molecules turned into the stuff of life.

That’s partly because no one researcher or laboratory can tackle all aspects of the problem. But recent experiments and simulations—studying planetary habitability, the conditions needed to produce biomolecules in the ratios and concentrations for self-sustaining metabolism, and the ways in which the precursors to DNA and RNA might have assembled and replicated—are beginning to answer some fundamental questions about the origin of life.

Multiple labs are tackling these interdisciplinary challenges with myriad approaches. At least one team believes they might be on track to learn how life got a start on our planet. “For years, people working on the origin of life had many ideas but nothing that fell into place as a single working pathway,” says astronomer Dimitar Sasselov of Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. “In the last two or three years, we have the outline of that pathway. If it works, we will soon have the equivalent of a living thing in the lab at the chemical level.”