Engineering the emergence of life through convection, serpentinization and the first metabolic pathway


Details

Date
Tuesday, April 09 2013 - 12:00 pm, PDT
Speaker
Michael J Russell
Affiliation
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Description

mike russel in labThe alkaline hydrothermal theory for the emergence of life holds that the endergonic (thermodynamically uphill) reactions vital for life’s origin and continued existence require free energy converters (nano-engines) fuelled by various disequilibria. The first two primary engines were i) a carbon fixation engine to generate the organic building blocks of life by reaction between hydrothermal CH4 and H2 with the CO2 and NO in atmosphere and ocean, ii) a proton pyrophosphatase engine exploiting the natural pH gradient between alkaline hydrothermal solution and acidulous ocean to drive biosynthesis by condensations of these same building blocks.

To this end there occurred on the early Earth and other such rocky bodies, inorganic prebiotic molecules that would have been precipitated at the interface between a submarine alkaline hydrothermal solution and the metal-bearing acidulous ocean.

Dr. Russell will show how these metals, especially iron, occurred as readymade nano-scale sulfides and oxides with the same structures and valences as the active centers of those biotic metalloenzymes shown to be present in the Last Universal Common Ancestor of all life.

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