Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 163–170 | Cite as

Light, iron, Sam Granick and the origin of life

  • David Mauzerall


Living matter is an organized system which requires a continual flux of energy for its survival. As a working assumption, the flux of energy required for the origin of a self-duplicating cell is taken as the power required for the maintenance of a modern cell: 10 mW per g of carbon or some 105 times the output per gram of the sun. Solar photochemistry supplies the energy for the continuing evolution of life and, by continuity, for its origin. The iron oxide-sulfide photosynthetic unit proposed by S. Granick 35 years ago was meant to supply this energy. The evolution of complex organic photosensitizers is rationalized by the Granick hypothesis that biosynthetic pathways recapitulate their evolution. These concepts are discussed in the context of the evolution of photosynthetic systems and the known properties of these pigments.

Key words

biosynthetic pathway evolution free energy photochemistry photosynthesis porphyrin 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Mauzerall
    • 1
  1. 1.Rockefeller UniversityNew YorkUSA

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