Space DNA

Twinkle twinkle little star… “how I wonder what WE are???”

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science. 

Who hasn’t stared at the stars wondering where we came from… Did life originate in Earth’s ancient atmospheric soup… Or did it fall from outer space?

Yasuhiro Oba and colleagues from Hokkaido University in Japan wondered. They examined biological chemicals found in meteorites, and took a special look at one that landed in Australia in 1969. 

The four molecules in DNA – A, T, G, and C – are called “nucleotides.” Together, they make up all of life. A and G had previously been found in meteorites, but not C and T. 

So the researchers devised a gentle chemical separation technique using cold water. The technique let them identify fragile molecules not previously seen in meteorites, such as C and T. For the first time EVER, they found a complete set of nucleotides in a meteorite! 

Their findings suggest that life’s ingredients may have a cosmic origin.

And we’re one step closer to finding the recipe for life’s alphabet soup. 

Reference: Oba, Y., Takano, Y., Furukawa, Y., Koga, T., Glavin, D. P., Dworkin, J. P., & Naraoka, H. (2022). Identifying the wide diversity of extraterrestrial purine and pyrimidine nucleobases in carbonaceous meteorites. Nature Communications, 13(1).