Author(s): Russell MJ
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Abstract The Earth agglomerates and heats. Convection cells within the planetary interior expedite the cooling process. Volcanoes evolve steam, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and pyrophosphate. An acidulous Hadean ocean condenses from the carbon dioxide atmosphere. Dusts and stratospheric sulfurous smogs absorb a proportion of the Sun's rays. The cooled ocean leaks into the stressed crust and also convects. High temperature acid springs, coupled to magmatic plumes and spreading centers, emit iron, manganese, zinc, cobalt and nickel ions to the ocean. Away from the spreading centers cooler alkaline spring waters emanate from the ocean floor. These bear hydrogen, formate, ammonia, hydrosulfide and minor methane thiol. The thermal potential begins to be dissipated but the chemical potential is dammed. The exhaling alkaline solutions are frustrated in their further attempt to mix thoroughly with their oceanic source by the spontaneous precipitation of biomorphic barriers of colloidal iron compounds and other minerals. It is here we surmise that organic molecules are synthesized, filtered, concentrated and adsorbed, while acetate and methane--separate products of the precursor to the reductive acetyl-coenzyme-A pathway-are exhaled as waste. Reactions in mineral compartments produce acetate, amino acids, and the components of nucleosides. Short peptides, condensed from the simple amino acids, sequester 'ready-made' iron sulfide clusters to form protoferredoxins, and also bind phosphates. Nucleotides are assembled from amino acids, simple phosphates carbon dioxide and ribose phosphate upon nanocrystalline mineral surfaces. The side chains of particular amino acids register to fitting nucleotide triplet clefts. Keyed in, the amino acids are polymerized, through acid-base catalysis, to alpha chains. Peptides, the tenuous outer-most filaments of the nanocrysts, continually peel away from bound RNA. The polymers are concentrated at cooler regions of the mineral compartments through thermophoresis. RNA is reproduced through a convective polymerase chain reaction operating between 40 and 100 degrees C. The coded peptides produce true ferredoxins, the ubiquitous proteins with the longest evolutionary pedigree. They take over the role of catalyst and electron transfer agent from the iron sulfides. Other iron-nickel sulfide clusters, sequestered now by cysteine residues as CO-dehydrogenase and acetyl-coenzyme-A synthase, promote further chemosynthesis and support the hatchery--the electrochemical reactor--from which they sprang. Reactions and interactions fall into step as further pathways are negotiated. This hydrothermal circuitry offers a continuous supply of material and chemical energy, as well as electricity and proticity at a potential appropriate for the onset of life in the dark, a rapidly emerging kinetic structure born to persist, evolve and generate entropy while the sun shines.
This article was published in Acta Biotheor
and referenced in Air & Water Borne Diseases