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Origins of life

06 May, 2010

Scientists now believe that RNA rather than DNA formed the basis of life. Questions still exist over the exact environmental conditions that allowed this to happen.

Duration: 12:50

When double-stranded DNA was first discovered, it was thought that it was the ‘molecule of life’. It is now accepted that single-stranded RNA is the origin of life. Scientists are still confused as to the exact combination of environmental conditions (temperature, pressure and pH) that may have given rise to the earliest life forms.

This is being researched by a Massey University team of scientists – Geoff Jameson, David Penny and Pat Edwards. They are looking at conditions allowing RNA molecules to fold and undergo catalysis reactions at extremes of temperature and pressure, in the hope of answering some of the origin of life’s big questions.

Programme details: Our Changing World


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