American researchers have created conditions in the laboratory that would have existed on Earth 3.5 billion years ago. Then they started experimenting, which led to exciting results.

One of the most important questions of science to this day is how life could have originated on Earth. There are already guesses and theories about this, but in order to get a clearer picture, we will have to find the first cells from which life began to flourish.

In this area, a team from the Scripps Research Institute in California has taken an important step forward, said A Science Alert. the Chemistry Based on the publication in the scientific journal, it appears that they were able to discover how the first cell membranes were formed. The chemical process known as phosphorylation may have occurred much earlier than previously thought.

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Phosphorylation adds atomic groups to the molecule containing phosphorus. In this way, they can transform spherical clusters of fat, so-called protocells, into more advanced versions of themselves, which can therefore be more diverse, stable and chemically active.

These protocells are thought to have served as vital building blocks for biochemistry more than 3.5 billion years ago, and may have emerged from warm springs deep in the oceans to evolve into more complex biological structures.

Chemist Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy, one of the institute's scientists, and his colleagues set out from the assumption that since the process is widespread throughout the functioning of an organism, phosphorylation might be involved in the early stages of protocell formation.

Scripps Research scientists reveal how the first cells on Earth might have existed

The discovery of new phospholipids brings researchers closer to understanding how primitive cells emerged during the origin of life. Above, vesicles are shown inside a protocell-like structure. Learn more: https://www.scripps.edu/news-and-events/press-room/2024/20240229-krishnamurthy-cell-origins.html Source: Scripps Research

In the laboratory, researchers created conditions that would have existed on ancient Earth. The team combined fatty acids and glycerol to create more complex bubble-like structures similar to protocells that aid cellular processes. By manipulating temperature and acidity, it turned out that protocells had formed. According to them, there could have been a similar chemical environment on Earth approximately 4 billion years ago, such as the one that scientists were able to create.

The team stressed that more investigations must be conducted on this topic, but it seems that this method can already be used to find out the process that led to the formation of life on Earth.

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