Japan-Led Team Finds Sugar Molecules in Meteorites

Science Society Technology

Tokyo, Nov. 19 (Jiji Press)--A Japanese-led research team has said it detected in meteorites molecules of ribose, a component of ribonucleic acid (RNA), and other sugars essential to life.

The group, including scientists of Tohoku University, Hokkaido University and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, has published the study in the online edition of the U.S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In most present-day living organisms, protein is created by using DNA's genetic information with the help of RNA. However, there is a hypothesis that RNA played the role of both DNA and protein in life in early Earth.

The latest findings show "the possibility that extraterrestrial sugar molecules played a part in the formation of life on Earth," said Yoshihiro Furukawa, associate professor at Tohoku University.

The two meteorites, found in Australia and Morocco, are rich in carbon and are believed to have fallen on Earth from asteroids belonging to the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

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