Huasca Basaltic Formations, in Hildago State, México. Image: Inés Urdaneta
The origin of prebiotic RNA (ribonucleic acid) is one of the deepest mysteries in biology.
RNA and DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) are nucleic acids; macromolecules called biopolymers, and they are essential in life, since they play a critical role in biological processes such as coding, decoding, regulation and expression of genes. RNA is assembled as a chain of nucleotides (monomers composed of 5-carbon sugars, phosphates groups and a nitrogenous base), just like DNA, but unlike DNA that has a paired double strand, RNA is found in nature as a single strand folded onto itself. If the sugar involved is ribose, the biopolymer is RNA; if the sugar is the ribose derivative deoxyribose, the resulting biopolymer is DNA.
Cellular organisms use messenger RNA (mRNA) to bring genetic information that directs synthesis of specific...