Dr. Elisa Biondi - Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution (FfAME)


Date: 5 October 2022
Time: 3:30 pm
Location: ABB 102

Guest: Dr. Elisa Biondi
Senior Scientist / Fellow
Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution (FfAME)

Correspondence to: ebiondi@ffame.org   

Title: Catalytic Synthesis of Polyribonucleic Acid on Prebiotic Rock Glasses

Craig A. Jerome,1,§ Hyo-Joong Kim,2 Stephen J. Mojzsis,3,4 Steven A. Benner1,2, and Elisa Biondi1,2,*
1 Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, Alachua FL, USA.
2 Firebird Biomolecular Sciences LLC, Alachua FL, USA
3 Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder CO USA.
4 Research Center of Astronomy and Earth Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.
§ Current affiliation: Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation, Alachua, FL, USA.
We report here comprehensive experimental results that show that ribonucleoside triphosphates are converted to polyribonucleic acid when incubated with rock glasses similar to those likely present 4.3-4.4 billion years ago on the Hadean Earth surface, where they were formed by impacts and volcanism. This long polyribonucleic acid contains a substantial fraction of 3',-5'-dinucleotide linkages. Chemical analysis, including classical methods that were used to prove the structure of natural RNA, established a polyribonucleic acid structure for these products. The polyribonucleic acid accumulated, and was stable, for months, with a synthesis rate of 2 x 10-3 pmoles of triphosphate polymerized each hour per gram of glass (25 °C, pH 7.5). Different geological species with different compositions are different in their effectiveness as catalysts, excluding non-descript surface catalysis as the origin of these polymers.
These results suggest that polyribonucleotides were available to Hadean environments if triphosphates were. As many proposals are emerging describing how triphosphates might have been made on the Hadean Earth, the process observed here offers an important missing step in models for the prebiotic synthesis of RNA.
Go Back
McMaster University - Faculty of Science | Physics & Astronomy