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Biological Evidence Against The Panspermia Theory

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Biological evidence against the panspermia theory

 

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Abstract
Keywords
1. The panspermia theory
2. The tRNA split genes of Nanoarchae…
3. The rationale underlying the analysis…
4. Conclusions
Acknowledgement
References

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Journal of Theoretical Biology
Volume 266, Issue 4, 21 October 2010, Pages 569–572

 

Biological evidence against the panspermia theory
Massimo Di Giulio
 

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doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2010.07.017

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Abstract
The following idea is analysed. Given that evolution on Earth seems to have passed through protocellular evolutionary stages of progenotes, this would appear to be incompatible with the panspermia theory because this observation would imply that the infection bringing life to the Earth started in these protocells, for which a low or null infective power is generally expected.

Keywords
Progenote; tRNA split genes; Biosynthetic pathways on tRNAs; Evolutionary transitions; Coevolution theory of the genetic code

1. The panspermia theory
The panspermia theory, that is the possibility that life arrived on our planet transported by meteorites (lithopanspermia), was suggested in 1865 by the German physicist Hermann E. Richter (Raulin-Cerceau et al., 1998). In 1871, Lord Kelvin supported the same thesis that germs transported by meteorites might have infected the Earth (Thomson, 1871). In 1908, Arrhenius maintained that micro-organisms might have reached the Earth by means of an acceleration produced by stellar radiation pressure (radiopanspermia). A third possibility has also been explored, directed panspermia, which suggests that micro-organisms were deliberately transmitted to Earth by intelligent beings present on another planet (Crick and Orgel, 1973). There is some evidence supporting panspermia and some observations that might favour it. For instance, Gold (1992) maintains that if life were only restricted to the surface of planetary bodies then panspermia would be highly unlikely because there would not have been any protection against the harmful effects of cosmic rays. He, instead, claims that panspermia is a much more realistic possibility if there had been abundant life in the depths of planetary bodies and, therefore, there would have been a potential protection of micro-organisms offered by the rock for an interplanetary journey of life (Gold, 1992). Crick and Orgel (1973) cite the enrichment of molybdenum instead of chromium and nickel in current organisms as possible evidence of panspermia, since the existence of an organism ought not to depend on an extremely rare element. This suggestion has been criticised (Gualtieri, 1977). Planetary microcosms models of asteroids and meteorites also suggest that protoplanetary nebulae might support and disperse microorganisms (Mautner, 2002). Wickramasinghe (2004) has been one of the great supporters of the panspermia theory and has gathered considerable evidence in its favour (Wallis et al., 1992  and  Sommer and Wickramasinghe, 2005). However, it seems to me that alongside the evidence presented by Wickramasinghe (2004), some of which seems truly weak, there is the view of Crick (1993) which seems to suggest that the implausibility of the RNA world might imply that life was born not on our planet but on a planet where there might have been conditions that were particularly favourable for the evolution of RNA and much less adverse than those that seem... Show More

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