Astrobiologists propose looking for life in forms in which it is unknown to us

(ORDO NEWS) — The search for extraterrestrial life has so far been limited to using terrestrial samples as reference material, which has essentially meant looking for life “as we know it.”

For astrobiologists searching for life on other planets, there are simply no tools to predict “life in forms we don’t know it.”

However, in the new study, a team of bioinformaticians decided to get around this limitation by identifying universal patterns in the chemistry of living organisms that are not specific to specific biological molecules.

These findings provide new ways to predict features of extraterrestrial life whose biochemistry distinguishes them from the life we ​​are familiar with on Earth.

In their new work, a group led by Dylan Gagler, a graduate of the University of Arizona, USA, and a bioinformatics specialist at NYU Langone Health Medical Center at New York University, attempted to search for general statistical patterns in the functioning of living organisms, without being tied to specific biological molecules.

To do this, the team, using the Integrated Microbial Genomes and Microbiomes database, studied the array of enzymes found in bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes and was able to discover a new type of biochemical universality by identifying statistical patterns in the biochemical functions of enzymes that are common to all living organisms.

By making this generalization, they confirmed the statistical patterns that follow from functional principles,

According to the authors, the resulting general statistical patterns may be inherent in life forms consisting of molecules that are different from the biological molecules that we encounter on Earth.


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