Chapter

The Origin of Biological Information

Leslie E. Orgel

in Life's Origin

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780520233904
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520928701 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520233904.003.0006
The Origin of Biological Information

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There is overwhelming evidence that all contemporary living organisms are descended from a Last Common Ancestor (LCA). The LCA lived on Earth at least as early as 3,500 million years ago and employed nucleic acids for the storage of genetic information and used proteins as catalysts. In order to understand the origins of life, the origin of the nucleic acid-protein system must be understood. This chapter focuses on the origin and development of the hypothesized RNA world. It considers a very optimistic scenario explaining how a simple RNA World come into existence and how this world invented the DNA-RNA-protein world. The chapter emphasizes that the existence of polymeric molecules capable of replicating and competing is both necessary and sufficient to account for the emergence of life.

Keywords: Last Common Ancestor; LCA; nucleic acids; proteins; RNA; DNA; polymeric molecules

Chapter.  5275 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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