Tokyo:Researchers have, for the first time, found the presence of sugar molecules involved in the formation of early life in meteorites, an advance that sheds more light on the potential role played by space rocks in sparking life on the Earth. The study suggests that sugars important for biological processes, such as ribose, can form in space, and the arrival of such sugars on Earth may have sparked the formation of some of the earliest complex biological molecules.
The researchers, including Yoshihiro Furukawa from Tohoku University in Japan, analysed three stony, non-metallic, carbon rich meteorites – one of them being the Murchison meteorite that landed in Australia in 1969. The study revealed that ribose – a foundational component of ribonucleic acid (RNA) – was present in the meteorites, as well as other biologically important sugars. “Ribose is particularly essential as a building block of RNA, which could have both stored information and catalysed reactions in primitive life on Earth,” the researchers wrote in the study.