Controversial new findings about a "dark state" of DNA in which it is susceptible to damage by ultraviolet radiation could shed light on the origins of life itself, chemists at Oregon State University claim. The theory initially considered scientific heresy could overturn much of our understanding of biochemistry by showing that the four bases of which DNA is comprised, adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine, are not so stable as scientists originally thought. Indeed, OSU's Wei Kong has shown that although the vibrating "dark state" of the DNA bases exists only fleetingly it leaves the bases open to serious damage and so seemingly could have precluded the emergence of a stable genetic environment except for one vital factor - water. The findings Kong suggests show water to have a stabilizing effect that was absolutely essential in allowing "primordial" DNA bases to remain stable, resist mutation, and ultimately allow for the evolution of life.
New light on life's origins