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The First Universal Common Ancestor (FUCA) as the Earliest Ancestor of LUCA’s (Last UCA) Lineage

Abstract

The existence of a common ancestor to all living organisms in Earth is a necessary corollary of Darwin idea of common ancestry. The last universal common ancestor (LUCA) has been normally considered as the ancestor of cellular organisms that originated the three domains of life: Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya. Recent studies about the nature of LUCA indicate that this first organism should present hundreds of genes and a complex metabolism. Trying to bring another of Darwin ideas into the origins of life discussion, we went back into the prebiotic chemistry trying to understand how LUCA could be originated under gradualist assumptions. Along this line of reasoning, it became clear to us that the definition of another ancestral should be of particular relevance to the understanding about the emergence of biological systems. Together with the view of biology as a language for chemical translation, on which proteins are encoded into nucleic acids polymers, we glimpse a point in the deep past on which this translation mechanism could have taken place. Thus, we propose the emergence of this process shared by all biological systems as a point of interest and propose the existence of this pre-cellular entity named FUCA, as the first universal common ancestor. FUCA was born in the very instant on which RNA-world replicators started to be capable to catalyze the bonding of amino acids into oligopeptides. FUCA has been considered mature when the translation system apparatus has been assembled together with the establishment of a primeval, possibly error-prone genetic code. This is FUCA, the earliest ancestor of LUCA’s lineage.

Keywords

  • Origin of life
  • LUCA
  • FUCA
  • RNA world
  • PTC
  • Archaea
  • Translation system

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank FAPERJ (CNE E-26/202.780/2018) for funding FP. MVJ was financially supported by PAPIIT-IN224015; UNAM; México.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Francisco Prosdocimi or Sávio Torres de Farias .

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Prosdocimi, F., José, M.V., de Farias, S.T. (2019). The First Universal Common Ancestor (FUCA) as the Earliest Ancestor of LUCA’s (Last UCA) Lineage. In: Pontarotti, P. (eds) Evolution, Origin of Life, Concepts and Methods. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-30363-1_3

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