That’s mainly because, theorizing aside, the RNA world is fortified by much more experimental evidence than any of its competitors have accumulated. Now, a pair of researchers has put forth another theory – this time involving the coevolution of RNA and peptides – that they hope will shake the RNA world’s hold.
Recent papers published in Biosystems and Molecular Biology and Evolution delineated why the RNA world hypothesis does not provide a sufficient foundation for the evolutionary events that followed.
Finding a set of rules robust enough to do that would take far too long with RNA alone, said Peter Wills, Carter’s co-author at the University of Auckland in New Zealand – if the RNA world could even reach that point, which he deemed highly unlikely.
He defined reflexive information as information that, “When decoded by the system, makes the components that perform exactly that particular decoding.” The RNA of the RNA world hypothesis, he added, is just chemistry because it has no means of controlling its chemistry.
“The RNA world doesn’t tell you anything about genetics,” he said.
When the RNA world, coined in 1986, rose to prominence, Carter admitted, “I was pretty ticked off.” He felt that his peptide-RNA world, proposed a decade earlier, had been totally ignored.