CrossRef enabled

PAC Archives

Archive →

Pure Appl. Chem., 2007, Vol. 79, No. 12, pp. 2101-2117

Chemical evolution toward the origin of life

Daniel Fitz, Hannes Reiner and Bernd Michael Rode

Division of Theoretical Chemistry, Institute of General Inorganic and Theoretical Chemistry, University of Innsbruck, Innrain 52a, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria

Abstract: Numerous hypotheses about how life on earth could have started can be found in the literature. In this article, we give an overview about the most widespread ones and try to point out which of them might have occurred on the primordial earth with highest probability from a chemical point of view. The idea that a very early stage of life was the "RNA world" encounters crucial problems concerning the formation of its building blocks and their stability in a prebiotic environment. Instead, it seems much more likely that a "peptide world" originated first and that RNA and DNA took up their part at a much later stage. It is shown that amino acids and peptides can be easily formed in a realistic primordial scenario and that these biomolecules can start chemical evolution without the help of RNA. The origin of biohomochirality seems strongly related to the most probable formation of the first peptides via the salt-induced peptide formation (SIPF) reaction.