Nucleobases in Meteorites to Nucleobases in RNA and DNA?
Nucleic acids likely played a foundational role in the origin of life. However, the prebiotic chemistry of nucleoside and nucleotide synthesis has proved challenging on a number of fronts. The recent discovery of both pyrimidine and purine nucleobases in carbonaceous chondrite meteorites has garnered much attention from both the popular press and the scientific community. Here, we discuss these findings in the context of nucleoside/nucleotide prebiotic chemistry. We consider that the main challenge of prebiotic nucleoside synthesis, that of nucleosidic bond formation, is not addressed by the identification nucleobases in meteorites. We further discuss issues of selection that arise from the observation that such meteorites contain both canonical and non-canonical nucleobases. In sum, we argue that, despite the major analytical achievement of identifying and characterizing nucleobases in meteorites, this observation does little to advance our understanding of the prebiotic chemistry that could have led to the first genetic molecules that gave rise to us.
Krishnamurthy, Ramanarayanan, Aaron D. Goldman, David A. Liberles, et al. 2022. "Nucleobases in Meteorites to Nucleobases in RNA and DNA?" Journal of Molecular Evolution 90(5): 328-331.
Journal of Molecular Evolution
Prebiotic synthesis, Ribose, Origin, Acids, Life