Chemical origin of life


The chemical origin of life refers to the conditions that might have existed and therefore promoted the first replicating life forms. It considers the physical and chemical reactions that could have led to early replicator molecules.

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research | | open

    While mechanisms have been proposed for the prebiotic nucleotide synthesis, these require separate (and potentially incompatible) routes for pyrimidines and purines. Here the authors show that both of these classes of molecules can be formed by a divergent synthesis from a common prebiotic precursor.

    • Shaun Stairs
    • , Arif Nikmal
    • , Dejan-Krešimir Bučar
    • , Shao-Liang Zheng
    • , Jack W. Szostak
    •  & Matthew W. Powner
  • Research | | open

    Some of the earliest life on Earth flourished in terrestrial hot springs. Here, the authors present evidence for ca. 3.5 Ga hot spring deposits from the Dresser Formation, Pilbara Craton, Australia, that host some of the earliest known life in the form of stromatolites and other microbial biosignatures.

    • Tara Djokic
    • , Martin J. Van Kranendonk
    • , Kathleen A. Campbell
    • , Malcolm R. Walter
    •  & Colin R. Ward
  • Research |

    The evolutionary origin of the enzyme-catalysed Krebs cycle is unclear. Here, the authors identify non-enzymatic intermediates that replicate key elements of the cycle, suggesting that inorganic catalysts may have driven the origin of metabolic processes.

    • Markus A. Keller
    • , Domen Kampjut
    • , Stuart A. Harrison
    •  & Markus Ralser
  • Research |

    Lysine-rich peptides from the ribosomal core and derived homolysine decapeptides of either L-, D- or mixed chirality have now been shown to enhance RNA polymerase ribozyme activity at low magnesium concentrations, accelerate ribozyme evolution and enable templated RNA synthesis within membranous protocells.

    • Shunsuke Tagami
    • , James Attwater
    •  & Philipp Holliger
    Nature Chemistry 9, 325–332
  • Research |

    Di- and tripeptide building blocks in which the C-terminus has been converted into an aldehyde are shown to form dynamic chemical networks through imine condensation followed by the formation of cyclic N,N-acetals. The networks exhibit multi-phase growth of prion-like assemblies that template the formation of chain-length-specific peptide-like oligomers.

    • Chenrui Chen
    • , Junjun Tan
    • , Ming-Chien Hsieh
    • , Ting Pan
    • , Jay T. Goodwin
    • , Anil K. Mehta
    • , Martha A. Grover
    •  & David G. Lynn

News and Comment