If terms such as adenine and guanine bring you memories of the school course of biology, here you will see a reason to give to these words a second meaning. A team of scientists discovered that these two, as well as the other building blocks of DNA, could possibly form in space and could have been brought to the surface of Earth by meteorites.
Meteorites found in Antarctica and Australia make scientists believe that the building blocks of DNA might exist in space. In order to reach this amazing conclusion, the researchers analyzed a series of 12 meteorites collected in Antarctica and Australia.
Inside, the scientists found a ‘treasure’ of molecules that may play an important role in the formation of early life forms. The adenine, which helps build the ‘stairs’ of the DNA helix, was present in eleven meteorites. The guanine, another key component of DNA, was present in eight ones.
Two of the 12 meteorites contain exotic particles that are very rare on Earth, thus, demonstrating that the building blocks of DNA could have been formed in space. The discovery provides evidence of the theory that a set of prefabricated sections on a meteorite or a comet could have given rise to life on Earth.
“Our results demonstrate that the purines detected in meteorites are consistent with products of ammonium cyanide chemistry, which provides a plausible mechanism for their synthesis in the asteroid parent bodies, and strongly supports an extraterrestrial origin”, the researchers wrote in their paper “Carbonaceous meteorites contain a wide range of extraterrestrial nucleobases“.
This theory is known as panspermia and claims that the building blocks of life are present throughout the universe and get transferred through meteorites, asteroids, and space dust. According to the theory, in this manner, certain microorganisms that can survive the conditions of outer space may end up on planets and pave the way for the emergence of life.
In any case, the mystery of the origins of life on our planet remains just that – a mystery. Maybe one day, we will find definite answers to the questions that have been puzzled us for millennia. For now, all we have at our disposal are assumptions and theories.
Did the DNA indeed originate somewhere else in the universe and not on our planet? No one knows for sure.
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