Phosphorus may have started life on Earth

How life arose on Earth is an intriguing mystery scientists have been concerned about for many years. A recent study by American researchers possibly provides the key to understanding it.

Their study of lakes Magadi (Kenya), Lonar (India), Mono (USA) showed not only the strong salinity of their waters, but also a huge number of microorganisms in them. Concentrations of phosphorus turned out to be 50 thousand times higher than in seas and rivers.

It is assumed that high levels of phosphorus are due to the presence of carbonates. In most lakes on our planet, calcium forms solid minerals with phosphorus that microorganisms cannot “process”. In carbonate waters, part of phosphorus remains “not bound” to calcium; therefore, it is available for the nutrition of microorganisms.

Over 4 billion years ago, the air on Earth was saturated with carbon dioxide and suitable for the formation of lakes with high concentrations of phosphorus, which is a part of DNA and RNA. It is in lakes that life might have begun.

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