Genomics and Cell Biology: October 2008

Researchers from NAI's University of Arizona team and their colleagues at the University of Leeds have a new paper in Angewandte Chemie International Edition dealing with prebiotic chemistry and the early Earth. Working both experimentally and with models of the early atmosphere, the team shows that the Hadean and early Archaean Earth was primed with an abundance of condensed phosphates, enabling the formation of the necessary precursors of RNA and DNA. This research removes one of the large stumbling blocks in prebiotic chemistry- that the early Earth lacked a low-temperature reservoir of activated phosphate compounds capable of eventually leading to the origin of life.

Source: NAI Newsletter

Researchers from NAI's University of Hawai'i team have a paper in the September 17 edition of Nature about the evolution of the animal gut. For more than 100 years zoologists have speculated about scenarios of how the bilaterally symmetrical animals (animals that have a left and a right side, like flies, fish, and humans) evolved from a simple circular (radially symmetric) ancestor that looked similar to jelly fish or corals. In the commonly presented scenarios this transition is connected to the evolution of a through-gut with an anterior mouth and posterior anus. It has been thought that both openings emerged simultaneously from a single embryological opening through which the inner tissues enter (called blastopore).