Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 3–10

Liquid water and the origin of life

  • André Brack

DOI: 10.1007/BF01581985

Cite this article as:
Brack, A. Origins Life Evol Biosphere (1993) 23: 3. doi:10.1007/BF01581985


Liquid water has many peculiarities which confer special properties. The most important among them probably are the ability to establish hydrogen bonds, a high polarity and a high dielectric constant. In the presence of liquid water, large organic molecules have to manage the conflict between hydrophobic groups and hydrophilic groups. This duality can generate interesting prebiotic situations such as the stereoselective aggregation of short peptide sequences of alternating hydrophobic — hydrophilic residues into thermostable β-sheets endowed with chemical acrivity. Liquid water is also a powerful hydrolytic agent. As such, it allows pathways which would have few chances to occur in an organic solvent.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • André Brack
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre de Biophysique Moléculaire, C.N.R.S.Orléans Cedex 2France