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The Origin of Life: “Chemical Evolution” Occurred Below the Sea Bottom!

Elucidation of Peptidation of Amino Acids Under High Temperature/High Pressure Conditions

2011.09.27
(2011.10.18 Update)


Tohoku University, Graduate School of Science
National Institute for Materials Science

The Tohoku University Graduate School of Science, in joint research with the National Institute for Materials Science, carried out an amino acid polymerization experiment under high temperature, high pressure conditions, and clarified the fact that peptides, which are the basis of proteins, can be produced from pure amino acids (glycine, alanine).

Abstract

A team headed by Assistant Professor Tsubasa Otake and Professor Takeshi Takegawa of the Tohoku University Graduate School of Science, in joint research with a group led by Dr. Takashi Taniguchi, Group Leader of the Ultra-High Pressure Processes Group and Dr. Hiromoto Nakazawa, Emeritus Fellow of the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), carried out an amino acid polymerization experiment under high temperature, high pressure conditions, and clarified the fact that peptides, which are the basis of proteins, can be produced from pure amino acids (glycine, alanine).
Until now, the formation mechanism of simple organic substances such as amino acids and the like had gradually been elucidated by organic synthesis experiments searching for the origin of life. However, the process by which these substances evolved further in the environment of the primitive Earth had remained virtually unexplained. In this experiment, the researchers succeeded in forming more complex macromolecules and clarified the fact that the existence of ammonia of higher concentration at higher pressure is important for the stability of amino acids and peptides.
This suggests that the formation of the substances which are the basis for proteins occurred under the sea bottom of the primitive Earth. In other words, this supports the theory that, after oceans appeared on the early Earth, simple organic substances concentrated under the sea floor, and these sea bottom sediments underwent “evolution” into more complex organic substances by a process of consolidation and dehydration.
These research results are scheduled for publication in the near future in the online edition of the American science journal “Astrobiology.”



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