Monday, February 08, 2010
A Hellish Prebiosis
But what came before it all? When did life arise in the Archean geologic eon? Better yet, where did it arise? The traditional school says that life arose in a warm little pond full of prebiologic precursors. Up until the 1990s, there was no other school of thought. With the discovery in the 1970's of deep sea hydrothermal vents and their continuing analysis, an alternative school of thought arose. One that suggested that hydrothermal vents were the birthplace of early life. (I am a member of that school of thought.) This article suggests that early life arose in a particular type of hydrothermal vents, alkaline hydrothermal vents that have chemical gradients to support a proton driving force for the production of energy. This protonmotive force exists in bacteria, choroplasts, and mitochondria, and is called chemiosmosis, the production of a selective ion gradient (hydrogen protons from water molecules) across a semipermeable membrane. I'm sure that the debate is just getting interesting, but perhaps one day the textbooks will be rewritten to suggest that the first life arose in what we mesophiles would call an underwater hell.
Labels: hydrothermal prebiotic origins
this blog is cool
and i like to read this blog every day
hey please send an e mail to me
Even to me, a non-biochemist, the alkaline hydrothermal vents theory sounds plausable.
Links to this post: