Sugars as the Source of Energized Carbon for the Origin of Life


Wednesday, April 02 2008 - 12:00 pm, PDT
Art Weber

What were the chemical processes that started life on Earth?  Biochemist Art Weber is trying to answer this question by studying prebiotically plausible chemical reactions in the lab – reactions that might have been responsible for biogenesis.

Art’s experiments have shown that sugars are unsurpassed in their ability to undergo spontaneous self-transformation reactions in water.  Consequently, for the past decade he’s been investigating the prebiotic synthesis of sugars and their subsequent reactions in the presence of ammonia that yield a complex mixture of chemical products whose activities are essential to the origin of life, and even combine to form semi-solid microspherules that could have provided a primitive cell-like, catalytic environment. The ultimate goal of his research effort is to develop a model, self-replicating system that resembles the birth of life on Earth, and can be artificially evolved to a more dynamic and complex state.

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