DOI: 10.3390/life13081749 ISSN:

Template-Directed Replication and Chiral Resolution during Wet–Dry Cycling in Hydrothermal Pools

David Ross, David Deamer
  • Paleontology
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

The commonly supposed template-based format for RNA self-replication requires both duplex assembly and disassembly. This requisite binary provision presents a challenge to the development of a serviceable self-replication model since chemical reactions are thermochemically unidirectional. We submit that a solution to this problem lies in volcanic landmasses that engage in continuous cycles of wetting and drying and thus uniquely provide the twofold state required for self-replication. Moreover, they offer conditions that initiate chain branching, and thus furnish a path to autocatalytic self-replication. The foundations of this dual thermochemical landscape arise from the broad differences in the properties of the bulk water phase on the one hand, and the air/water interfacial regions that emerge in the evaporative stages on the other. With this reaction system as a basis and employing recognized thermochemical and kinetic parameters, we present simulations displaying the spontaneous and autocatalyzed conversion of racemic and unactivated RNA monomers to necessarily homochiral duplex structures over characteristic periods of years.

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