Exploring Prebiotically formed Dynamic Combinatorial Libraries

Kuhan Chandru (ELSI)
September 16, 2016

ELSI-2 Building - 104 ELSI Lounge

While screening a large set of potentially oligomerisable and prebiotically plausible molecules for their ability to oligomer under a wide variety of reaction conditions (pH, temperature, concentration, presence of congeners) compatible with various geochemical settings on the primitive Earth and other primitive solar system environments, we found that a-hydroxy acids (aHA) are extraordinarily polymerisable. Although polymer chemistry has been extensively explored, desires to produce polymers with particular properties have largely driven research, and heterogeneity has not been among them, though this may offer certain advantages near the origin of life. aHAs which are among the most likely prebiotically abundant monomers, can generate vast libraries of oligomers under mild conditions, which are stable for significant amounts of time. Such libraries would likely significantly alter the catalytic landscape of their environment. They would remain accessible to the first replicating systems, both as provided by the environment and to those which could reliably make the monomers. These oligomers could have been supplanted by others (e.g. peptides) which were more stable during chemical or early biological evolution.

In this presentation I will also talk about my previous work related to hydrothermal vents and my other on-going research on the origins of life.