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Scientists to retrace DNA, RNA origin

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A TEAM of researchers from Hokkaido University in Japan, led by Yasuhiro Oba, have discovered building blocks of DNA in meteorites that landed in North America and Australia, suggesting that the basic ingredients for life may have originated in outer space.

  The study may change the way early processes that allowed life to form on the planet not long after the formation of the solar system is understood.

  According to the experts, the two nucleobases, purine and pyrimidine, were discovered in meteorites that fell in Canada, the US, and Australia between 1950 and 2000.

  “This study demonstrates that a diversity of meteoritic nucleobases could serve as building blocks of DNA and RNA on the early Earth,” the study reads.

  While both DNA and RNA technically contain enough information to lead to the formation of living organisms, the researchers say, clear picture of how life first formed billions of years ago is not clear.

  “There is still much to learn about the chemical steps that led to the origin of life on Earth — the first self-replicating system,” Danny Glavin, a NASA scientist and co-author of the study, told the media.

   Continuing, “This research certainly adds to the list of chemical compounds that would have been present in the early Earth’s prebiotic (existing before the emergence of life) soup.”

   The study revealed that other components, beyond the five nucleobases, are equally necessary for the formation of  life. The elements according to their findings include; amino acids, sugars, and fatty acids.

   Until now, scientists had detected three of the five basic chemicals that make up DNA and RNA, but in a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, “the present results may not directly elucidate the origin of life on the Earth but I believe that they can improve our understanding of the inventory of organic molecules on the early Earth before the onset of life.” Oba told Reuter.

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