RNA Evolution and Abiogenesis

Have you ever wondered about how life began? How we evolved from inorganic substances to fully functional, adaptable, evolved beings? I think, in a sense, we all have. I think we all look up at the stars and wonder how we did it. Wonder what percentage of our bodies is star-dust, wondered how connected we are to the world.

This is the topic for my Independent Study this block. There are many theories concerning how life originated from inorganic substances like ammonia and methane, but not much is accepted as fact. This is mostly due to the fact that the Earth today is very different than the ancient Earth, when life began.

Abiogenesis is the theory that biological life started from inorganic substances. There has been progress in this field. For example, the famous Miller-Urey experiment attempted to recreate the early Earth environment. They did so in a test tube, using various chemicals and procedures designed to recreate an early environment. What they found was astonishing. In the test tube, they found 10 of the amino acids necessary for life. Amino acids have two orientations, right-handed or left-handed. The amino acids synthesized in the Miller-Urey experiment were in produced in equal quantities; while, in reality amino acids are almost all right-handed.

There is still some work to be done, but the task of discovering life’s origins is definitely an enticing one. ┬áStay curious, potential answers to come.


Published by Mia '15

Hello! My name is Maria Mulligan-Buckmiller, and I am a senior Biology major, Biochemistry minor from Manitou Springs. I have been involved in the Honor Council, Residential Life, Colorado College Admissions, Class Committee, and Intramural sports!