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Did hydrogen spark the origin of life

9 March 2020

At https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2020/03/hydrogen-energy-at-r… … researchers have focussed on hydrothermal vents under the oceans in their search for the origins of life on Earth. At least, over the last forty or so years, that has been the case. And it still is it would seem. The vents emit hot water containing minerals from deep underground – including lots of hydrogen gases and carbon dioxide (co2 gas). The latter is vital for life it would seem. Funny that it is demonised by the climate change folk. Conditions that exist at hydrothermal vents are thought to lie at the emergence of the first free living cells = life. The important point is the combination of hydrogen gas and co2 (also a gas). Microbes that live on these substances convert them into formic acid (formate), acetate, and pyruvite (salts of acetate acid and pyruvic acid). The resesarchers then include all of this organic  material and filter it through a dense 'road map' of complicated reactions. What has been shown in a laboratory is that the building blocks of life can emerge whenH2 and co” are left to react in the presence if simple minerals in hydrothermal conditions.

However, other researchers, in Europe and Japan, pointed out the origins of life were a chicken and egg problem. In addition to simple co2 -H2 reactions cells have to form a large number of more complex modules in order to grow and function. Modern cells tend to feature proteins as catalysts, the construction of which is coded in the genes. What  came first – the proteins or the nucleic acids.

At https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2020/03/how-three-genes-rule… … for billions of years life on earth was restricted to aquatic environments, we are told, such as the oceans, rivers, and lakes. Then, as if by magic, 450 million years ago, plants colonised the land and evolved beneficial relationships with microbes in the soil. These are known as symbioses as they allow plants to access additional nutrients. It has now been found there is a common genetic basis for these symbiosies. They say the colonisation of the land was aided by fungi known as mycorrhizal fungi (you can buy it in your local garden centre as it is beneficial for newly planted trees and shrubs in order to establish a good root system etc). The research came in part from scientists at the John Innes Centre in the UK. John Innes invented the nutrients used to fortify loam and sold in bags at garden centres –  a big selling product in the UK. They come in four different formulae – Seed (which has few nutrients, if any) No 1 (which has a few) and No 2 and 3 (which has increasing amounts of nutrients). The idea is to move from sowing the seed, to pricking out, and then to potting out, and finally, the last and growing position of the plant (in the ground or in a container). The JI centre has a good reputation and no doubt mycorrhizal fungi plays a part – living in harmony with plant roots. The suggestion is that this is a primordial association and not something that has evolved more recently.  There is no reason why it should not do so.

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