RNA has been synthesized in conditions that may have resembled those on the early Earth.Credit: Alamy.
If Thomas Carell is right, around 4 billion years ago, much of Earth might have been blanketed with a greyish-brown kind of mineral.
The reactions produce so much of these nucleobases that, millennium after millennium, they could have accumulated in thick crusts, Carell says.
The results add credence to the ‘RNA world’ hypothesis, says Carell, who is at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany.
In previous work in 2016, Carell’s team had found chemical reactions that spontaneously yielded the nucleobases A and G2.
They then added water back, and one of the compounds dissolved and was washed away into another reservoir.
The next major problem Carell wants to tackle is what reactions could have formed the sugar ribose, which needs to link to nucleobases before RNA can form. »