Origin of the Genetic Code and Abiotic Synthesis of Organic Compounds

  • Zita Martins
Part of the Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology book series (COLE, volume 24)


The genetic code is intrinsic to all living organisms. However, it is still not known what the first replication system was. The origin of the genetic code remains uncertain, and several hypotheses have been proposed. Theories include the synthesis of peptides preceding the appearance of genes (“Metabolic Model”) or molecules of nucleic acids being responsible for the storage of genetic information (“Genetic Model”). In this chapter, the main theories for the first replication systems are outlined. Possible pathways for the prebiotic synthesis of the first monomers are reviewed. The contributions of endogenous and exogenous sources are presented, summarizing how the genetic code may have appeared on Earth.


Genetic Code Peptide Nucleic Acid Hydrogen Cyanide Carbonyl Sulfide Prebiotic Synthesis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author would like to thank the Royal Society for financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth Science and EngineeringImperial College LondonLondonUK

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