The Origins of Life

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More About This Textbook


Life arose on Earth more than three billion years ago. How the first self-replicating systems emerged from prebiotic chemistry and evolved into primitive cell-like entities is an area of intense research, spanning molecular and cellular biology, organic chemistry, cosmology, geology, and atmospheric science.

Written and edited by experts in the field, this collection from Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology provides a comprehensive account of the environment of the early Earth and the mechanisms by which the organic molecules present may have self-assembled to form replicating material such as RNA and other polymers. The contributors examine the energetic requirements for this process and focus in particular on the essential role of semi-permeable compartments in containment of primitive genetic systems. Also covered in the book are new synthetic approaches for fabricating cellular systems, the potentially extraterrestrial origin of life's building blocks, and the possibility that life once existed on Mars. Comprising five sections Setting the Stage, Components of First Life, Primitive Systems, First Polymers, and Transition to a Microbial World it is a vital reference for all scientists interested in the origin of life on Earth and the likelihood that it has arisen on other planets

Related Titles Include:
The RNA World, Third Edition
Evolution: The Molecular Landscape

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781936113040
  • Publisher: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2010
  • Pages: 318
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface vii

Introduction and Overview David Deamer Jack W. Szostak 1

Historical Development of Origins Research Antonio Lazcano 5

Setting The Stage

Cosmic Carbon Chemistry: From the Interstellar Medium to the Early Earth Pascale Ehrenfreund Jan Cami 21

The Hadean-Archaean Environment Norman H. Sleep 35

Earth's Earliest Atmospheres Kevin Zahnle Laura Schaefer Bruce Fegley 49

Components of First Life

Planetary Organic Chemistry and the Origins of Biomolecules Steven A. Benner Hyo-Joong Kim Myung-Jung Kim Alonso Ricardo 67

The Organic Composition of Carbonaceous Meteorites: The Evolutionary Story Ahead of Biochemistry Sandra Pizzarello Everett Shock 89

Ribonucleotides John D. Sutherland 109

The Origin of Biological Homochirality Donna G. Blackmond 123

Primitive Systems

Bioenergetics and Life's Origins David Deamer Arthur L. Weber 141

Mineral Surfaces, Geochemical Complexities, and the Origins of Life Robert M. Hazen Dimitri A. Sverjensky 157

From Self-Assembled Vesicles to Protocells Irene A. Chen Peter Walde 179

Membrane Transport in Primitive Cells Sheref S. Mansy 193

First Polymers

Primitive Genetic Polymers Aaron E. Engelhart Nicholas V. Hud 207

Closing the Circle: Replicating RNA with RNA Leslie K.L. Cheng Peter J. Unrau 229

The Origins of Cellular Life Jason P. Schrum Ting F. Zhu Jack W. Szostak 245

Transition to a Microbial World

Origin and Evolution of the Ribosome George E. Fox 261

Deep Phylogeny-How a Tree Can Help Characterize Early Life on Earth Eric A. Gaucher James T. Kratzer Ryan N. Randall 279

Constructing Partial Models of Cells Norikazu Ichihashi Tomoaki Matsuura Hiroshi Kita Takeshi Sunami Hiroaki Suzuki Tetsuya Yomo 295

An Origin of Life on Mars Christopher P. McKay 305

Index 313

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