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Phosphorus and the Origin of Life

Presenter: Matthew Pasek, University of South Florida
When: November 20, 2007 2:30PM PST

Phosphorylated biomolecules like RNA, DNA, ATP, phospholipids, and many coenzymes are critical to life as we know it. Presumably, given their central role in life, phosphorylated biomolecules were also critical for the origin or early evolution of life on the Earth. The origin of these biomolecules remains one of the major questions in origins of life research.

Recent discoveries have suggested that the reaction of meteoritic schreibersite with water produces abundant reduced phosphorus compounds which may have encouraged the synthesis of critical prebiotic molecules. The cosmochemistry, geochemistry, and biochemistry of phosphorus will be summarized to point to pathways for the incorporation of phosphorus in the origin of life.

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