Liquid water and the origin of life

  • André Brack


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.


Hydrogen Peptide Hydrogen Bond Organic Chemistry Geochemistry 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, G. W. and Paul, R.: 1958,J. Amer. Chem. Soc. 80, 4423.Google Scholar
  2. Barbier, B. and Brack, A.: 1988,J. Amer. Chem. Soc. 110, 6880–6882.Google Scholar
  3. Barbier, B. and Brack, A.: 1992,J. Amer. Chem. Soc. 114, 3511–3515.Google Scholar
  4. Bonner, W. A., Blair, N. E., and Dirbas, F. M.: 1981,Origins of Life 11, 119–134.Google Scholar
  5. Brack, A.: 1982,BioSystems 15, 201–207.Google Scholar
  6. Brack, A.: 1987,Origins of Life 17, 367–379.Google Scholar
  7. Brack, A. and Barbier, B.: 1990,Origins of Life 20, 139–144.Google Scholar
  8. Brack, A. and Orgel, L. E.: 1975,Nature 256, 383–387.Google Scholar
  9. Brack, A. and Spach, G.: 1979a,J. Mol. Evol. 13, 35–46.Google Scholar
  10. Brack, A. and Spach, G.: 1979b,J. Mol. Evol. 15, 231–238.Google Scholar
  11. Brack, A. and Spach, G.: 1981a Y. Wolman (ed.),Origins of Life, Kluwer Acad. Publ., pp. 487–493.Google Scholar
  12. Brack, A. and Spach, G.: 1981b,Origins of Life 11, 135–142.Google Scholar
  13. Brack, A. and Spach, G.: 1981c,J. Amer. Chem. Soc. 103, 6319–6323.Google Scholar
  14. Ehler, K. W. and Orgel, L. E.: 1976,Biochim. Biophys. Acta 434, 233–243.Google Scholar
  15. Gottikh, B. P., Krayevsky, A. A., Tarussova, N. B., Purygin, P. P., and Tsilevich, T. L.: 1970,Tetrahedron 26, 4419–4433.Google Scholar
  16. Paul, R. and Anderson, G. W.: 1960,J. Amer. Chem. Soc. 82, 4596–4600.Google Scholar
  17. Spach, G. and Brack, A.: 1979,J. Mol. Evol. 13, 47–56.Google Scholar
  18. Weber, A. L. and Lacey, Jr., J.C.: 1974,Biochim. Biophys. Acta 349, 226–234.Google Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations