How minerals on early Earth sparked life

Washington: A type of mineral that dissolves in water absorbed from humid air may have assisted in the construction of proteins on the early Earth, according to the study that may have implications in understanding how the first living cells formed on our planet. The study noted that deliquescent minerals which absorb moisture from their surrounding atmosphere, may have helped form big polymer molecules important for life before natural biological reactions evolved to make them.

Until now scientists believed that the building blocks of all proteins — amino acids — subjected to repeated wet-dry cycles may have cooked up peptides and proteins on early Earth where the hot sunny days were interrupted by occasional rainstorms, the study noted.

However, the researchers behind the current study, including those from Saint Louis University in the US, said that a major drawback to the theory was its reliance on unpredictable storms that may have watered-down the ingredients to excess. The researchers said that an important piece of the puzzle is solved if the role of deliquescent salts in early Earth’s biochemical reactions is considered. These minerals absorb a limited amount of water from the air, based on the humidity levels, and natural regulate the amount of water in a solution.

—PTI

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