• World first discovery of AEG in cyanobacteria, say scientists

Electrophoretic Separations

World first discovery of AEG in cyanobacteria, say scientists

Nov 21 2012

Researchers have discovered a possible early form of life that predates the development of Ribonucleic Acid (RNA), called N-(2-aminoethyl) glycine, better known as AEG.

Before DNA was the earth's primary genetic material, there was RNA which was an early structure of life that encoded genetic instructions.

AEG may have been the building block before RNA came along. AEG is a tiny molecule that when linked into a chain forms a hypothetical backbone for Peptide Nucleic Acids, which in theory, are the first genetic molecules.

Up until now, AEG could not found in nature, so synthetic AEG has been studied by the pharmaceutical sector as a potential gene silencer that can stop or slow down particular genetic diseases.

However a team of scientific experts from Sweden and the US have announced that they have now discovered AEG within some of the most primitive organisms on earth, cyanobacteria.

Cyanobacteria are super tolerant of extreme habitats and environments, ranging from the tundra of the Arctic to the hot volcanic springs of Yellowstone National Park.

They occasionally appear as films of scum or mats on the surface of lakes and reservoirs throughout the hot summer months.

Dr Paul Alan Cox is the co-author of the paper that appeared in the journal Plos One. The American team is based at the Institute for Ethnomedicine in Jackson Hole, and serve as an adjunct faculty at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, both in the US.

Dr Cox explained that their discovery of AEG in cyanobacteria was totally unexpected and while writing the research, they found out that their colleagues at the Stockholm University Department of Analytical Chemistry in Sweden had made a similar discovery. The teams then decided to collaborate on their research.

He states that they are still uncertain as to whether AEG is the earliest form of life.

"We just don't have enough data yet to draw that sort of conclusion," commented the expert.

Posted by Ben Evans

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