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A peptide–nucleic acid replicator origin for life.

Piette, Bernard M.A.G. and Heddle, Jonathan G. (2020) 'A peptide–nucleic acid replicator origin for life.', Trends in ecology & evolution., 35 (5). pp. 397-406.


Evolution requires self-replication. But, what was the very first self-replicator directly ancestral to all life? The currently favoured RNA World theory assigns this role to RNA alone but suffers from a number of seemingly intractable problems. Instead, we suggest that the self-replicator consisted of both peptides and nucleic acid strands. Such a nucleopeptide replicator is more feasible both in the light of the replication machinery currently found in cells and the complexity of the evolutionary path required to reach them. Recent theoretical and mathematical work supports this idea and provide a blueprint for future investigations.

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Publisher statement:© 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:11 May 2020
Date of first online publication:11 March 2020
Date first made open access:11 May 2020

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