posted on Nov, 22 2009 @ 10:09 PM
NASA scientists studying the origin of life have reproduced uracil, a key component of our hereditary material, in the laboratory. They discovered
that an ice sample containing pyrimidine exposed to ultraviolet radiation under space-like conditions produces this essential ingredient of life.
Pyrimidine is a ring-shaped molecule made up of carbon and nitrogen and is the basic structure for uracil, part of a genetic code found in ribonucleic
acid (RNA). RNA is central to protein synthesis, but has many other roles.
"We have demonstrated for the first time that we can make uracil, a component of RNA, non-biologically in a laboratory under conditions found in
space," said Michel Nuevo, research scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. "We are showing that these laboratory
processes, which simulate occurrences in outer space, can make a fundamental building block used by living organisms on Earth."
Nuevo is the lead author of a new research paper in the journal Astrobiology.
They found that when pyrimidine is frozen in water ice, it is much less vulnerable to destruction by radiation. Instead of being destroyed, many of
the molecules took on new forms, such as the RNA component uracil, which is found in the genetic make-up of all living organisms on Earth.
Link to the full story: www.sciencedaily.com...