Evolution at work on Earth even before the birth of life

Evolution was at work on Earth even before the birth of life: the fundamental ‘building blocks’ of the very first organisms, amino acids, were in fact selected not from the most abundant and easily available ones, but from those most efficient in folding up and forming protein. This was stated by a study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and led by the Karlova University of Prague, which reconstructed the conditions present on Earth about 4.6 billion years ago, before the appearance of life. The research also suggests something about hypothetical life forms present on other planets: given that the same amino acids that arrived on Earth with meteorites can also be found in many other places in the Universe, alien life may not be very different from that terrestrial.
Amino acids are the basic building blocks of proteins, performing many vital roles for living organisms. More than 100 have been identified in nature so far, yet only 20 of these are used to form proteins. To understand whether this group of ‘chosen ones’ was born by chance or not, the researchers led by Mikhail Makarov simulated the mechanisms at work on the primordial Earth, at the basis of the first forms of life.
In this way, the study authors showed that the amino acids that allowed proteins to fold more efficiently, adapting them to specific functions such as DNA replication, were favored. In other words, a process of evolution or natural selection was already underway at this stage: the most easily available compounds were not chosen, but those most suitable for carrying out a specific task. If different amino acids had been selected for billions of years ago, proteins would not have been as efficient at building life.

Source: Ansa

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