From whale to blue cheese. All life on Earth “feeds” on energy from the same molecule
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Scientists have come to the conclusion that every form of life on the planet uses the same chemical to generate energy.
A new study has found that all life known to us on Earth uses the same energy-carrying molecule in as “universal cellular fuel”. However, now scientists have learned how and why this happens, writes Science Alert.
ATP is an organic molecule charged by photosynthesis or cellular respiration (the process by which organisms break down food) and used by every single cell. In fact, every day we process our own body weight into these organic molecules.
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In both photosynthesis and cellular respiration, a phosphate molecule is added to adenosine diphosphate (ADP), and this reaction, called phosphorylation, produces an ATP molecule.
Hydrolysis releases the same phosphate, providing chemical energy , which is necessary for the cells of the body for various processes – movement, reproduction, signals to the brain and much more.
Scientists were interested in how ATP began to dominate metabolism and replaced many other molecules. For a long time this was considered a mystery, but it seems that scientists have finally solved this mystery.
A group of scientists from University College London, led by evolutionary biochemist Nick Lane, have learned that the ATP molecule has become the universal energy “currency” of the cell as a result of the unique interactions of phosphorylation molecules.
Scientists believe that this molecule has existed since the very beginning of life on Earth, even in the times preceding the creation of living matter. The researchers tried to figure out how it happened.
Biochemist Silvana Pinna believes that other molecules were originally involved in the complex process of phosphorylation. To test their theory, the scientists studied another phosphorylating molecule, AcP. It is still used by bacteria and archaea in the process of metabolizing chemicals.
Scientists conducted a series of experiments and concluded that a molecule found in bacteria and archaea, when interacting with iron ions, can convert ADP to ATP in water . Next, the researchers tried to reproduce the same process with other metals or molecules, but the results did not match.
Researchers believe that this experience can shed light on the origin of life. Apparently, such reactions with AcP could take place even under prebiotic conditions, and then boost the ATP production cycle.
Scientists believe that the results they obtained during the study, although not completely exclude the possibility of the origin of life in the sea, but actually indicate that the water needed a strong connection with the land.