Life on Earth could appear due to… common salt

If you believe the movies about monsters and old scientific experiments, life began with the spark. Not all believe in this history about the origin of life, so continue to look for sources of energy that can turn probioticeski the broth more refreshing dish. Can be that secret ingredient is just a pinch of salt. In any case, it is possible to assume, proceeding from a new study conducted by researchers from the Institute of Earth science and life (ELSI) at Tokyo Institute of technology in Japan.

Scientists drew attention to the ordinary and well-known sodium chloride as a potential conduit of the chemical energy necessary for the early biochemistry. Sodium chloride consists of the ratio of sodium and chlorine ions of 1:1, and in this case, the culprits are chlorine ions. Once they get a dose of intense electromagnetic radiation, all starts.

Need ordinary salt?

The origin of life on Earth has always evoked interest among people.

Science explains how life has managed to evolve and develop to such a degree of diversity. We can use explanations like natural selection to get to what we have today.

At some point we need to move from the chaotic vortex of organic chemicals to an imperfect replication code, which can be seen as the first glimmer of life; the first ecosystem, as required by the hypothesis of RNA world.

Unfortunately, in this hypothesis there is the problem of chicken and egg.

Life depends on energy consumption from a single source — whether a chemical bond or sunlight and use it to rearrange connections. Without a source of energy that we could accelerate the production of basic chemicals, which are then composed of primitive genetic codes.

Although all modern organisms derive essential cellular device, the first metabolic jump had to rely on a rather common source of energy. So, to make it easier to find not in life, and in the environment.

In the early 1950-ies two chemists Stanley Miller and Harold Urey is an interesting way to generate a number of amino acids from simple materials, demonstrating for the first time that the basic substances for proteins do not necessarily need a living source.

They applied voltage to the medium, suggesting that the early Earth generously received lightning strikes, and hence energy.

But despite the fact that this process really made amino acids, RNA consists of a different alphabet basic chemicals. Trying to understand how they were formed, also resulted in the energy problem.

Last year a group of scientists suggested that the plasma of the shock waves propagating from the impact site of the asteroid could provide enough energy to convert the organic building blocks in the formamide parent molecule for the four letters of RNA.

Well, partly these rare events — impacts of asteroids and lightning — can explain the production of a small number of key players. Meanwhile, there are a number of other chemicals that could have a supporting role and which also require explanation.

The new study is a little bit back to include the story about the larger troupe of actors, which could be important in the chain of vital reactions. One such example is the connection of the cyanamide.

The earlier work of other scientists outlined ways to create a fundamental starting blocks RNA from compounds like hydrogen cyanide in the presence of UV light are almost the same. But for this it was necessary to form cyanamide, and no one had been able to do.

“Our goal, accordingly, was to develop a network of reactions that produce simple sugars, including cyanamide, and other important precursors for RNA synthesis “in one pot”, the scientists write.

After the analysis of the chain of reactions supported by the UV light, and more intense gamma radiation, they noticed that levels of cyanamide increased proportionally quite unexpected reagents — chlorine ions.

Two components contained in the salt, that is sodium usually attracts the most attention, and its chloride the satellite, which is rarely involved in the reactions, as a rule, overlooked.

Apparently, gamma radiation weakens the electrons of the chloride and provides a rush of energy necessary for the formation of cyanamide. In a sense, it sounds more difficult (and less exciting) than the lightning strikes and falling asteroids. But life doesn’t necessarily have to start with a boom.

Perhaps it began with a pinch of spice.

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