Frontier Research Institute for Interdisciplinary Sciences
Tohoku University

Research Projects

Support Program for Interdisciplinary Research 2016

Prof. Takeshi Kakegawa

Title From amino acid to cell division: new development of study on origin of life using potentials at Tohoku University

How life had originated on this Earth is still unsolved and fundamental questions. Tohoku University has many individuals interested in origin of life. The multi-disciplinary researches at Tohoku University are gathered in this project and try to promote unique researches associated with origin of life. We set four focused topics: (1) Preparation of bio-molecules on the early Earth, (2) Building macro-molecules by combining individual small molecules, (3) Making proto-cell without lipids, and (4) Proposing new models for origin of life which had deep root on the early Earth. We performed shock recovery experiments assuming meteorite impacts on the early oceans. We have been successful to synthesize amino acids (e.g., glycine and alanine) and nucleobases (cytosine and uracil) by such shock processes. We have been successful to synthesize nucleotide using natural evaporite minerals. Such experimental results are supported by our discovery of evaporite minerals with organic matter from 3.8-billion-years-old rocks. β sheet, methionine-bearing peptides and other important peptides were produced under ancient marine sedimentary conditions. Potential proto-cell without phospholipids are also proposed. Those fragments of bio-molecules were then most likely integrated by dynamic movements, such as plate tectonics, intense evaporation, frequent meteorite impacts, and ubnormal migration of deep water in crusts, of the early Earth.

New model for origin of life by research group at Tohoku University