As they were able to see, the catalysis of the reaction took place when the fatty acids formed compartments. As they are in an aqueous medium, and due to the hydrophobic nature of lipids, they tend to join with each other and form closed compartments; in other words, they take on the function of a membrane; “at that time the membranes obviously weren’t biological but chemical ones,” explained Ruiz-Mirazo. In their experiments they were able to see that the conditions offered by these membranes are favourable for amino acids. “The Montpellier group had the prebiotic reactions of the formation of dipeptides very well characterised, so they were able to see that this reaction took place more efficiently in the presence of fatty acids,” he added.
In his studies, in addition to the experimental work, Ruiz-Mirazo is working in another two spheres so in the end he is studying the origin of life from three pillars or perspectives: “firstly, we have the experimental field; another is based on theoretical models and computational simulations, which we use to analyse the results obtained in the experiments, and the third is a little broader, because we are studying from the philosophical viewpoint what life is, the influence that the conception held about life exerts on the experimental field, since each conception leads you to carry out a specific type of experiment,” he explained. “These three methodologies mutually feed each other: an idea that may emerge in the philosophical analysis leads you to carry out a new simulation, and the results of the simulations mark out the path for designing the experiments. Or the other way round. Most likely we will never manage to find the answer to how life began, but we are working on it: all of us living beings on Earth have the same origin and we want to know how it happened.” Paper. (public access) – Sara Murillo-Sánchez, Damien Beaufils, Juan Manuel González Mañas, Robert Pascal, Kepa Ruiz-Mirazo. Fatty acids’ double role in the prebiotic formation of a hydrophobic dipeptide. Chem. Sci., 2016; 7 (5): 3406 DOI: 10.1039/C5SC04796JMore.
One question that simple origin of life theories consistently fail to provide an answer to is, why is spontaneous generation not happening today? A Darwinian once tried telling us that natural selection would weed out “more primitive” life forms just starting to come into existence. But that doesn’t make any sense because there is no evidence that “more primitive” is or ever has been a disadvantage in terms of mere survival. [added:] Most likely, the opposite. We simply do not have evidence that such life forms exist or ever have existed free in nature.
Note: The researchers say, “Most likely we will never manage to find the answer to how life began, but we are working on it: all of us living beings on Earth have the same origin and we want to know how it happened.” Isn’t this a bit confusing? We likely won’t find out but we are working on it anyway… so why not work on something we can find out?
See also: Life on Earth at 4.1 billion years ago? Origin of life: Something momentous happened 4.5 bya that is *not at all* like what happens today. And no one knows a thing about it. But there are plenty of stories.
Life can arise naturally from chemistry!
Researchers: Bacteria fossils predate the origin of oxygen
Rob Sheldon: Why the sulfur-based life forms never amounted to much
Welcome to “RNA world,” the five-star hotel of origin-of-life theories
What we know and don’t know about the origin of life
Follow UD News at Twitter!