Hydrogen Bonds and Life in the Universe
AbstractThe scientific community is allocating more and more resources to space missions and astronomical observations dedicated to the search for life beyond Earth. This experimental endeavor needs to be backed by a theoretical framework aimed at defining universal criteria for the existence of life. With this aim in mind, we have explored which chemical and physical properties should be expected for life possibly different from the terrestrial one, but similarly sustained by genetic and catalytic molecules. We show that functional molecules performing genetic and catalytic tasks must feature a hierarchy of chemical interactions operating in distinct energy bands. Of all known chemical bonds and forces, only hydrogen bonds are able to mediate the directional interactions of lower energy that are needed for the operation of genetic and catalytic tasks. For this reason and because of the unique quantum properties of hydrogen bonding, the functional molecules involved in life processes are predicted to have extensive hydrogen-bonding capabilities. A molecular medium generating a hydrogen-bond network is probably essential to support the activity of the functional molecules. These hydrogen-bond requirements constrain the viability of hypothetical biochemistries alternative to the terrestrial one, provide thermal limits to life molecular processes, and offer a conceptual framework to define a transition from a “covalent-bond stage” to a “hydrogen-bond stage” in prebiotic chemistry. View Full-Text
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Vladilo, G.; Hassanali, A. Hydrogen Bonds and Life in the Universe. Life 2018, 8, 1.
Vladilo G, Hassanali A. Hydrogen Bonds and Life in the Universe. Life. 2018; 8(1):1.Chicago/Turabian Style
Vladilo, Giovanni; Hassanali, Ali. 2018. "Hydrogen Bonds and Life in the Universe." Life 8, no. 1: 1.
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