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Scientists Probe 'Tree Of Life' To Explore Earth's Mysteries

Update Date: Dec 02, 2015 08:59 AM EST

By studying the information in each of the cells in earth's living beings, a team of scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology is examining the evolution of life right back to 3.8 million years ago, according to HNGN.

The role of the ribosome, which is among the oldest building blocks of life, as well as its ability to give some insight into the biological procedures in the root of the "Tree of Live" is outlined in the study.

"Biology is a great keeper of records," Loren Williams, who headed the research, said in a press release. "We are figuring out how to read some of the oldest records in biology to understand pre-biological processes, the origin of life, and the evolution of life on Earth."

Even though ribosomes are integral to modern life forms, there are certain characteristics that were crucial in the functioning of earth's earliest organisms. They had a common core that is visible in all the life forms.

"The ribosome recorded its history," said Williams. "It accreted and got bigger and bigger over time. But the older parts were continually frozen after they accreted, just like the rings of a tree. As long as that tree lives, the inner rings will not change. The very core of the ribosome is older than biology, produced by evolutionary processes that we still don't understand very well."

Still, even though similarities were found, additions over the years have been made. For instance, human ribosomes are the world's largest with 7,000 nucleotides, which is a big change from the 100 or so present in the first life forms.

This breakthrough research will help to give insights into evolution as well as support antibiotic treatment.

"The ribosome is one of the primary [sic] target for antibiotics, so understanding its architecture and consistently throughout biology could be of great benefit," said Williams. "By studying the ribosome, we can start thinking about biology in a different way. We can see the symbiotic relationship between RNA and proteins."

The team now needs to continue experiments that explore further the current discovery.

"We have a coherent and consistent model that accounts for all the data we have going all the way back to a form of biology that is very primitive compared to what we have now," he said. "We plan to continue testing the predictions of the model."

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