Was There Once an RNA World of Life?

Mark Cohen cohen at cumuli.vmsmail.ethz.ch
Wed Aug 19 03:22:10 EST 1992

In article <1992Aug18.124417.7726 at alw.nih.gov> des at helix.nih.gov 
David E. Scheim writes:

> I've heard some theories that RNA/DNA type molecules were the first forms
> of life.  It seems more intuitive to me, however, that life began as
> bubbles on the beach, evolving into primitive cells with membranes whose
> division into new cells was initially propelled by simple osmotic forces.

Recently Luisi has published work showing that  micelles can catalyse their
own formation, which might support a bubbles on the beach approach to life.

It seems to me that there are 3 suggestions for the beginning of self
replication RNA type molecules, clays, micelles. How would we be able to
tell the difference between one or other being the first replicating system.
Which would be credited with being first if RNA type molecules had been
replicating on clay surfaces and then invaded micelles that were replicating
happily on their own. The resulting synthesis would be very cell like, with a
membrane and an RNA type genetic component. The only difference being that the
components could probably still replicate independently at first. 

Mark Cohen
cohen at cumuli.vmsmai..ethz.ch

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