Meteorite impacts on oceans may have created nucleobases and amino acids — the building blocks of life
Meteorite impacts on ancient oceans may have created nucleobases and amino acids — the building blocks of life — Japanese researchers have shown.
Researchers from Tohoku University, the National Institute for Materials Science and Hiroshima University conclude this after conducting impact experiments simulating a meteorite hitting an ancient ocean. With precise analysis of the products recovered after impacts, the team found the formation of nucleobases and amino acids from inorganic compounds. All the genetic information of modern life is stored in DNA as sequences of nucleobases.
However, formation of nucleobases from inorganic compounds available on prebiotic Earth had been considered to be difficult. In 2009, this team reported the formation of the simplest amino acid, glycine, by simulating meteorite impacts.
This time, they found the formation of a far larger variety of life’s building blocks, including two kinds of nucleobases and nine kinds of proteinogenic amino acids. “The results suggest a new route for how genetic molecules may have first formed on Earth,” the authors noted. The research was reported in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.