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The Krishnamurthy Lab

Was the Primordial Soup a Hearty Pre-Protein Stew?

The evolutionary path to first proteins may have been paved with relatively easy, small square-dance steps....

Read more here by Ben Brumfiled

Cleaning Up the Clutter

How proto-biology arose from the prebiotic clutter.


Holy Grails in Chemistry: Accounts of Chemical Research

Holy Grails cover page

Holy grails at Accounts


RNA–DNA Chimeras in the Context of an RNA World Transition to an RNA/DNA World

Overview of attention for article published in Angewandte Chemie. International Edition, September 2016
Nov. 10, 2016
Research Highlight

RNA-DNA Chimeras and the Transition to an RNA/DNA World




When RNA and DNA Worlds Collide


New Theory on Origin of Life on Earth Questions 'RNA World' Hypothesis

By Firman Akhsanu


News from the Primordial World

TSRI Scientists Find Evidence for Alternate Theory of How Life Arose

By Madeline McCurry-Schmidt


LA JOLLA, CA – September 28, 2016 – A new study led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) offers a twist on a popular theory for how life on Earth began about four billion years ago.

It Takes 2: RNA–DNA Mashup May Have Kick-Started Life on Earth

New research shows each molecule needed the other one




Nucleic acid instability challenges RNA world hypothesis

RN/DNA world


Missing Links Brewed in Primordial Puddles?

Missing Links Brewed in Primordial Puddles?

The crucibles that bore out early building blocks of life may have been, in many cases, modest puddles.

Now, researchers working with that hypothesis have achieved a significant advancement toward unlocking a longstanding evolutionary mystery -- how components of RNA and DNA formed from chemicals present on early Earth before life existed. It could also have implications on how astrobiologists view the probability of live elsewhere in the universe.

New Letters Added to the Genetic Alphabet

Scientists hope that new genetic letters, created in the lab, will endow DNA with new powers.

by Emily Singer

In their quest to understand the Origins of Life ....


Did life begin in a PUDDLE? First biological molecules may have formed in small pools as they dried out on early Earth

  • Study found repeated drying and wetting cycles led polypeptides to form
  • Polypeptides form proteins when long enough - a key part of living cells
  • Researchers found they could form from basic chemical building blocks
  • The findings support theories that life began on land four billion years ago


Finding the Origins of Life in a Drying Puddle


A Possible Explanation For The Origins of Peptides On Earth


Steps Toward Making Nucleosides

Intramolecular nucleosidation


Have you ever wondered how life first got started on Earth?

So do scientists! Though the question has not yet been fully answered, a careful study of Chemical Evolution is beginning to shed light on this mystery.

Watch the video


Origins of life, a Few Comments and an Update

 by Sandra Pizzarello, President of ISSOL 

in Origins of Life, Astrobiology Focus Group



NAI December 23, 2014 Newsletter

RNA as an Emergent Entity: An Understanding Gained Through Studying its Nonfunctional Alternatives


The Structure and Nonfunction of RNA


Nucleic Acid Chemistry - Thematic Series

Editorial by Prof. Hans-Achim Wagenknecht

Nucleic Acid Thematic Series


Microwave Phoshpitylation selected for F1000prime (Faculty of 1000)

F1000 Scott Silverman





Stanley Miller's forgotten experiments, analyzed

 Credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.

Credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. Vials contain samples of prebiotic materials created by
Stanley Miller in 1958, labeled by Miller himself. Miller added a potential prebiotic condensation agent, cyanamide,
during the course of the experiment. Cyanamide has been suggested to induce polymerization of amino acid into
simple peptides which is an important set in chemical evolution and possibly the origin of life. For unknown reasons,
Miller had never analyzed the samples. In a paper published in 2014, researchers at Georgia Tech and Scripps
Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego analyzed the samples and established the potential importance of
reagents - substances that cause chemical reactions such as cyanamide -- in the origin of life on Earth.

Stanley Miller, the chemist whose landmark experiment published in 1953 showed how some of the molecules of life could have formed on a young Earth, left behind boxes of experimental samples that he never analyzed. The first-ever analysis of some of Miller's old samples has revealed another way that important molecules could have formed on early Earth.

Miller’s forgotten experiments point to primitive protein genesis


Protecting Self-Replicating RNA? 

The Life Force

Synthetic primordial cell copies RNA for the first time


Prebiotic Chemistry: Researchers discover a potential prebiotic reaction that can form tartrates, providing another possible entry point to an early citric acid cycle

By Melissae Fellet

C&EN figure


Accounts of Chemical Research - Special Issue

Origins of Chemical Evolution

Science Advt


Nature | News Feature

Life-changing experiments: The biological Higgs

Biologists ponder what fundamental discoveries might match the excitement of the Higgs boson.



Nature | News

Enzymes grow artificial DNA

Synthetic strands with different backbones replicate and evolve just like the real thing.


Discovery of DNA Structure and Function: Watson and Crick

The landmark ideas of Watson and Crick relied heavily on the work of other scientists. What did the duo actually discover?
By: Leslie A. Pray, Ph.D. © 2008 Nature Education 



DNA's New Alphabets

DNA has been around for billions of years — but that doesn't mean scientists can't make it better.

Nature 491, 516–518 () doi:10.1038/491516a

by Roberta Kwok who is a freelance writer in the San Francisco Bay Area, California.


Chemical & Engineering News, 2012-01-27

On The Origin Of Sugars

Prebiotic Chemistry: Experiments reveal a possible path to forming the sugar in RNA

By Mellisae Fellet 


Startin’ Somethin’: Dihydroxyfumarate reacts with simple aldehydes to make molecules that could have formed the basis for life.

Scripps Research Team Proves Plausibility of New Primordial Pathway to Life’s Chemical Building Blocks

Alternative Pathway Could Change the Field of Pre-life Chemistry

A New Pathway to Life's Origin

Sugar and the Origin of Life


Alternate Prebiotic Route to Sugars

in ACS Chemical Biology - Spotlight March 16, 2012 , Volume 7, Issue 3, Pages 421-614

By Sarah A. Webb, Ph.D.

Researchers have struggled to uncover the chemical mechanisms that could have converted an abiotic “primordial soup” into building blocks of biopolymers. In examining the formation of carbohydrates from fundamental components such as water and carbon dioxide, researchers initially proposed the formose reaction that converts formaldehyde to a mixture of aldoses and ketoses in a series of steps.


JACS Image Challenge

Challenge #184

The article reported experimental investigations on the reactions of dihydroxyfumarate with small molecule aldehydes (glyoxylate, glycolaldehyde, and glyceraldehyde). Which pathway actually accounts for the formation of a mixture of diastereomers of pentulosonic acid 3a+3b from glyoxylate?

For the answer see challenge # 184

For the original paper see

Exploratory Experiments on the Chemistry of the "Glyoxylate Scenario": Formation of Ketosugars from Dihydroxyfumarate. Sagi, V.N.; Punna, V.; Hu, F.; Meher, G.; Krishnamurthy, R. J. Am. Chem. Soc2012, 134, pp 3577–3589 


A Stitch in Time    

By Mark Schrope

Origin Of Life: The Search For The First Genetic Material

Looking Beyond the RNA Structural Neighborhood for Potentially Primordial Genetic Systems

By John Sutherland

Mapping the Landscape of Potentially Primordial Informational Oligomers

For the original papers see

Mapping the Landscape of Potentially Primordial Informational Oligomers: Oligo-Dipeptides Tagged with 2,4-Disubstituted 5-amino-pyrimidines as Recognition Elements. Mittapalli, G.K.; Osornio, Y.M.; Guerrero, M.A.; Ravinder, K.R.; Krishnamurthy, R.; Eschenmoser, A. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2007, 46, 2478-2484.  

Mapping the Landscape of Potentially Primordial Informational Oligomers: Oligo-dipeptides and Oligo-dipeptoids Tagged with Triazines as Recognition Elements. Mittapalli, G.K.; Ravinder, K.R.; Xiong, H.; Munoz, O.; Han, B.; De Riccardis, De F.; Krishnamurthy, R.; Eschenmoser, A. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2007, 46, 2470-2477.