Setting constraints on origins of life’ hypotheses. Example 1: thioester world and metabolism first in hydrothermal vents

When it comes to origins of life (Ool) hypotheses, we are often served with beautiful stories on how one event follows another and then you get life. But, the devil is always in the details and we want it to be out, to be known and to be addressed.

“Only when negative results are permitted and theories can be abandoned will science  progress in this area (OoL)”

-Robert Shapiro (1935 – 2011)

Here is a summary of my recent paper addressing a weakness in the metabolism first hypotheses in hydrothermal vents.

Thioesters, the prebiotic analogues of Acetyl coenzyme A is a linchpin organic compound in respiration processes in life. Its occurrences have been transposed into geochemical settings such as hydrothermal vents to form many metabolism first schemes for origins of life in the last 40 years or so. One glaring problem, despite the usual poised narration, is that, this hypothesis have survived so long without through investigations for that many years. Now, researchers at Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI), an institute incepted to exclusively study the origins problem is doing just that, to set constrains on current OoL models and to produce more experimentally driven principles to understand the origins of life.

The open-source paper available in Sci.report, has demonstrated that the accumulated concentration of thioesters in HT vents are too insignificant to launch any meaningful progression in metabolism first schemes. Additionally, thioester (like Acetyl-Co-A) has a very limited shelf life; the researchers measured the decay rate and concluded that, depending on thioesters speciation and physical conditions, they are unlikely to persist in hydrothermal vent conditions for long, thus constraining the metabolism first hypotheses.

p.s: We are extremely delighted to get this piece out in an open source journal.

Dropbox

Figure is showing the possible formation of thioacetic acids, in blue and thioesters (methyl thioacetic acid) , in pink in hydrothermal vent systems.

Reference

Authors: Kuhan Chandru, Alexis Gilbert, Christopher Butch, Masashi Aono and Henderson James Cleaves II

Title: The Abiotic Chemistry of Thiolated Acetate Derivatives and the Origins of Life

Journal: Scientific Reports, 2016

DOI: 10.1038/srep29883

 

Free online course on Astrobiology and the search of life.

Hello world. Have you guys heard about Coursera. It’s basically a place where you can learn stuff for free (tons of it). They are now offering a course on my field entitled “Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life”. Click here. The course is 5 weeks long and starts on the 28th of January 2013. So i am giving you a head start here. Register in the link above, and you will get an email remainder before the courses starts. The instructor is Charles Cockell whom is a Professor of Astrobiology at the University of Edinburg, and more importantly you don’t need any background knowledge to learn this.

Check out the preview for the program

This is what you are going to learn

Week 1: What is life and what are the definitions of life? What do we know about the origin of life and what are the current hypotheses for how it originated on the Earth?

Week 2: What was the environment of early Earth like when life first emerged and what do we know about life on the earliest Earth? How did life evolve to cope with survival in extreme environments? What have been the major evolutionary transitions of life on the Earth?

Continue reading “Free online course on Astrobiology and the search of life.”

History of Earth as a clock

The fossils records were the only prove when it comes to origin of life and its evolution, that was the past. With radioisotopes dating we have known more

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