A new study challenges one of the key theories about the origin of life on Earth, first presented by Charles Darwin. He suggested that life first originated in shallow water basins.
However, researchers at University College London have successfully created protoselets in hot, alkaline seawater similar to marine environments found near deep-sea hydrothermal vents, suggesting that terrestrial life may have begun in the deepest parts of the world, not the shallowest.
"There are numerous competing theories as to where and how life began. Submerged hydrothermal vents are among the most promising places to start life – our findings now add weight to this theory with solid experimental evidence," the leader said in a statement. study author Nick Lane.
Previous experiments have tried unsuccessfully to form protocelles that are regarded as one of the key building blocks for the development of cell life. However, the formation of protocells by simple molecules, which occur naturally, has been successful in cooler fresh water under strictly controlled experimental conditions, which later decompose when duplicated in a medium similar to hydrothermal vents.
"All other experiments used a small number of molecular types, predominantly fatty acids of the same size, while in the natural environment you would expect to see a wider range of molecules," says first author Sean Jordan. [1
"In our experiments, we created one of the essential components of life under conditions that are more reflective of ancient environments than many other laboratory studies," Jordan said. "We do not yet know where life first came from, but our study shows that you cannot rule out the possibility of deep-sea hydrothermal vents."
Ocean hydrothermal vents are located in places around the world that are recently accessible to humans through advanced chnology. Such marine features are vents that extract minerals beneath the crust. When they come into contact with surrounding seawater, such minerals react to create a warm, nitrogen-rich environment characterized by "chimneys" built over years of mineral deposits capable of absorbing alkaline and acidic liquids. In general, the environment provides energy that is ripe for interactions between hydrogen and carbon dioxide, which can form more and more complex organic compounds.
By extending our knowledge of hydrothermal vents into the deep ocean, researchers have largely accepted the notion that terrestrial life begins in the very, very hot depths of the deepest parts of the ocean. But not so chopped up and dried The 2017 study revived Darwin's original idea with supporters and adversaries on both sides of the dispute, especially since hydrothermal vents were observed on other planets in our solar system.
"Space missions have found evidence that the ice moons of Jupiter and Saturn may also have alkaline hydrothermal vents in their seas. Although we have never seen evidence of the life of these moons, if we want to find life on other planets or moons, studies like ours can help us decide where to look, "Lane says.