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Life Origins - Organisms like Archaea

Origin of Life, Do we have the Answer?

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Researchers at the University of Georgia have embarked on an important discovery providing genetic hints regarding the life and history of specialized micro-organisms known as Archaea and consequently its involvement in the origin of life itself.

The results provide new insights into the understanding of the oldest forms of life on Earth. William Whitman, a microbiology professor from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences said, that the knowledge and understanding on the earliest forms of life “Archaea” could pave the way to answer everything we would like to learn on how the creation of life began.

To understand more about the functions of the “Archaea”, Felipe Sarmiento, a lead author and doctoral student in the microbiology department conducted a survey of 1,779 genes that are commonly found in sea marshes and landscapes. Based upon his study, 526 genes were determined to be essential for most functions of cells.  These experiments were performed by Jan Mrázek, an associate professor from the department of microbiology and the UGA Institute of Bioinformatics and published in PNAS Early Edition.

Archaea have complicated genetic systems which they routinely use for the construction of cellular life. On this basis, scientists believe that the eukaryotes evolved from ancient Archaea. Whitman said: "DNA is a rock and the machinery to create DNA was exclusive to Archaea," and all you need is the remaining systems to create the DNA, as a living cell. In simple words, Whitman says, Archaea burn hydrogen and reduce carbon dioxide to methane while we humans consume glucose and reduce oxygen to water. There is quite a bit of information that we are learning from the Archaea that seem interesting and could yield us the clues for the origin of life.

By April Holloway

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