Origins of life: new CRC at LMU

24 Nov 2023

The interdisciplinary project will investigate how the first evolution of molecules began.

  • The German Research Foundation is funding a new Collaborative Research Centre on the origins of life.
  • CRC TRR 392 “Molecular Evolution in Prebiotic Environments” is being coordinated by LMU researchers in collaboration with TUM.
  • The interdisciplinary project will investigate how the first evolution of molecules began, what conditions this required, and what it means for the search for life on other planets.

LMU is launching the new Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) TRR 392 “Molecular Evolution in Prebiotic Environments” in collaboration with the Technical University of Munich (TUM). The scientists in the CRC will be researching the very first steps in the emergence of life on Earth. They will be looking at how molecules could have evolved in a prebiotic world and have produced the first information of life in sequential form.

To find answers to this question, the CRC has assembled specialist knowledge from various disciplines, including the geosciences, chemistry, astrophysics, biophysics, and biochemistry. “Such an interdisciplinary approach is unique in this field,” says Professor Dieter Braun, spokesperson for the new Collaborative Research Centre. This spectrum of knowledge is needed, he adds, to close knowledge gaps and illuminate the history of chemical evolution.

The projects to be carried out within the CRC will address questions such as which chemical, physical, and geological conditions are necessary to initiate the molecular evolution of RNA and create and preserve the first genetic information. In addition, the researchers want to develop novel biotechnological approaches and let molecular evolution play out autonomously in a synthetic system. The experiments will also provide information on how we could define the preconditions for early life on other planets.

Other funding:

As well as approving the establishment of the new Collaborative Research Centre, the DFG also extended its funding of another CRCs with LMU participation:

TRR 274: "Checkpoints in the regeneration of the central nervous system"

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