Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 87, Issue 1, pp 1–3 | Cite as

Amino Acids in Life: A Prebiotic Division of Labor

  • Jason Allen DavidsonEmail author
Letter to the Editor


There are more than 20 amino acids used in Biology, and their utilization is enigmatic. Here, I propose that there was a prebiotic division of labor between two subsets of amino acids. The first set is the alpha-l set, which includes all the genetically encoded amino acids. These convey heritable information. The second set is all the remaining types, which includes the d-enantiomers incorporated in non-ribosomally encoded peptides and those used in signaling. These convey proximally mediated information about the environment. This division of labor became fixed early in the evolutionary history of life on the Earth.


Amino acids Prebiotic chemistry Isomers Signals 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Molecular EvolutionCalifornia State UniversityCaliforniaUSA

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