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Study: Early Evolution Was a "Team Process" Driven by Virus-Like Particles
General
Written by Daniel   
Thursday, 07 October 2010 17:39

From Daily Tech

"They're promiscuous little bastards" -- Professor John Paul on bacteria's use of gene-transfer agents

Chemical, geological, and genetic evidence points to life originating on Earth 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago (BYA).  

At the time the Earth was less than a billion years old and was quite a hostile place to live.  One key effort to understanding how nature created life is to explain how life survived such a hostile environment.  Recent studies suggest that RNA-based lifeforms may have preceded DNA-based lifeforms.

 

In order to avoid degradation, RNA likely formed in cool environments -- like ice pockets, or, more likely, cool northern ocean waters (which would be less likely to freeze through).

Another question is how early life developed such a vast array of chemical tools, with which to conquer its new world and transform via the process of evolution into wondrous multicellular beasts.  According to a new study, the answer may lie with virus-like particles called gene-transfer agents (GTAs).

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