Astrobiology

Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 153-178

First online:

Inversion Concept of the Origin of Life

  • V. N. KompanichenkoAffiliated withInstitute for Complex Analysis Email author 

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Abstract

The essence of the inversion concept of the origin of life can be narrowed down to the following theses: 1) thermodynamic inversion is the key transformation of prebiotic microsystems leading to their transition into primary forms of life; 2) this transformation might occur only in the microsystems oscillating around the bifurcation point under far-from-equilibrium conditions. The transformation consists in the inversion of the balance “free energy contribution / entropy contribution”, from negative to positive values. At the inversion moment the microsystem radically reorganizes in accordance with the new negentropy (i.e. biological) way of organization. According to this approach, the origin-of-life process on the early Earth took place in the fluctuating hydrothermal medium. The process occurred in two successive stages: a) spontaneous self-assembly of initial three-dimensional prebiotic microsystems composed mainly of hydrocarbons, lipids and simple amino acids, or their precursors, within the temperature interval of 100–300°C (prebiotic stage); b) non-spontaneous synthesis of sugars, ATP and nucleic acids started at the inversion moment under the temperature 70–100°C (biotic stage). Macro- and microfluctuations of thermodynamic and physico-chemical parameters able to sustain this way of chemical conversion have been detected in several contemporary hydrothermal systems. A minimal self-sufficient unit of life on the early Earth was a community of simplest microorganisms (not a separate microorganism).

Keywords

Fluctuation Hydrothermal system Nonequilibrium thermodynamics Prebiotic chemistry