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Thread: Formation of amino acids at hydrothermal vents?

  1. #1 Formation of amino acids at hydrothermal vents? 
    New Member pariah's Avatar
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    During the Archaeon Eon, amino acids, which were the origin of organic matter that gave rise to life as we know it, are thought to have formed (thank you Stanley Miller) but it seems to me that the extreme UV radiation would have subsequently broken them apart. I'm not questioning the origin of life, but rather, the mechanism of the creation of organic matter (just to be clear). I brought this up in class, and it was thought that some of the amino acids would have sunk to the bottom of the ocean at night (or, at least deep enough within the water column to be unaffected by UV radiation) but, considering Earth days were much shorter (5 to 6 hour day/night cycles), this theory seems less plausible than if amino acids were, say, formed from extreme conditions in hydrothermal vents during that time. Anyway, what I'm wondering is: what would the prevelence of hydrothermal vents would have been during this time period and, has their ability to create amino acids has been adaquetly tested? If so, what are the results? Thanks. :-)


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  3. #2  
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    Scientists have found what they believe to be archean hot springs complete with fossil bacteria in greenstone belts:

    Bacteria microfossils dating back 3.3 to 3.4 billion years have also been discovered in rocks from the Barberton greenstone belt, South Africa. Long, fine filaments probably representing thermophilic microorganisms living in the vicinity of a hydrothermal vent have been found in a massive sulfide deposit from the Early Archaean Strelley Group (about 3.235 billion years old) of the Pilbara greenstone belt, northwest Australia.
    http://www.peripatus.gen.nz/paleontology/Archaean.html


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  4. #3 Re: Formation of amino acids at hydrothermal vents? 
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pariah
    During the Archaeon Eon, amino acids, which were the origin of organic matter that gave rise to life as we know it,
    ... you should also note the need for nucleotides, sugars and phospho lipids.
    Quote Originally Posted by pariah
    (thank you Stanley Miller)
    Miller's concept was brilliant, but his baseline shaky in the extreme: it is now considered very unlikley that the primeval atmosphere was as reducing as that he tested.
    Quote Originally Posted by pariah
    ...or, at least deep enough within the water column to be unaffected by UV radiation
    1. They wouldn't have to sink very far to avoid uv.
    2. We can generate complex organic molecules, including amino acids, by bombarding very low termperatures ice in a vaccum with UV.
    3. The current consensus is that most of the prebiotic organic molecules came to Earth on comets: the interstellar medium is full of such.
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