Peptide and RNA contributions to iron-sulphur chemical gardens as life's first inorganic compartments, catalysts, capacitors and condensers.
Hydrothermal chimneys and compartments comprising transition metal sulphides and associated minerals have been proposed as likely locations for the beginnings of life. In laboratory simulations of off-axis alkaline springs, it is shown that the interaction of a simulated alkaline sulphide-bearing submarine vent solution with a primeval anoxic iron-bearing ocean leads to the formation of chimney structures reminiscent of chemical gardens. These chimneys display periodicity in their deposition and exhibit diverse morphologies and mineralogies, affording the possibilities of catalysis and molecular sequestration. The addition of peptides and RNA to the alkaline solution modifies the elemental stoichiometry of the chimneys-perhaps indicating the very initial stage of the organic takeover on the way to living cells by charged organic polymers potentially synthesized in this same environment.
Planetary Science Section 3220, MS:183-301, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109-8099, USA.
SourcePhilosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences 370:1969 2012 Jun 28 pg 3007-22
Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
Pub Type(s)Journal Article
Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.