23 September 2011 The evolutionary history of the ribosome and its relevance to the search for life elsewhere in the universe
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Abstract
Evidence pertaining to the evolutionary history of the ribosome is reviewed and is discussed in the context of the origin of life as we know it on the Earth. The implications for the search for life elsewhere are also discussed. If extraterrestrial life is found that has complex protein synthesis machinery, it will be of interest to determine if it represents a second genesis of life. It is argued that a comparison with the translation machinery of Earth life will be able to resolve the issue. If such extraterrestrial life were concluded to have arisen from the same genesis as Earth life, then examination of the ribosomal RNAs will provide further insight. In particular, it would in many scenarios be possible to determine how recently an organism found on another body such as Mars had been transferred to or from the Earth. Thus, forward contamination could be distinguished from interplanetary transfer.
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George E. Fox, "The evolutionary history of the ribosome and its relevance to the search for life elsewhere in the universe", Proc. SPIE 8152, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XIV, 81520X (23 September 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.896443; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.896443
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