Biochemistry; biological design; evolution; LUCA; NAD; RNA world
Biochemical information has been crucial for the development of evolutionary biology. On the one hand, the sequence information now appearing is producing a huge increase in the amount of data available for phylogenetic analysis; on the other hand, and perhaps more fundamentally, it allows understanding of the mechanisms that make evolution possible. Less well recognized, but just as important, understanding evolutionary biology is essential for understanding many details of biochemistry that would otherwise be mysterious, such as why the structures of NAD and other coenzymes are far more complicated than their functions would seem to require. Courses of biochemistry should thus pay attention to the essential role of evolution in selecting the molecules of life.