Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 86, Issue 3–4, pp 172–183 | Cite as

Mineral Grains, Dimples, and Hot Volcanic Organic Streams: Dynamic Geological Backstage of Macromolecular Evolution

  • Nikolai E. Skoblikow
  • Andrei A. Zimin
Original Article


The hypothesis of hot volcanic organic stream as the most probable and geologically plausible environment for abiogenic polycondensation is proposed. The primary synthesis of organic compounds is considered as result of an explosive volcanic (perhaps, meteorite-induced) eruption. The eruption was accompanied by a shock wave propagating in the primeval atmosphere and resulting in the formation of hot cloud of simple organic compounds—aldehydes, alcohols, amines, amino alcohols, nitriles, and amino acids—products, which are usually obtained under the artificial conditions in the spark-discharge experiments. The subsequent cooling of the organic cloud resulted in a gradual condensation and a serial precipitation of organic compounds (in order of decreasing boiling point values) into the liquid phase forming a hot, viscous and muddy organic stream (named “lithorheos”). That stream—even if the time of its existence was short—is considered here as a geologically plausible environment for abiogenic polycondensation. The substances successively prevailing in such a stream were cyanamide, acetamide, formamide, glycolonitrile, acetonitrile. An important role was played by mineral (especially, phosphate-containing) grains (named “lithosomes”), whose surface was modified with heterocyclic nitrogen compounds synthesized in the course of eruption. When such grains got into hot organic streams, their surface catalytic centers (named “lithozymes”) played a decisive role in the emergence, facilitation and maintenance of prebiotic reactions and key processes characteristic of living systems. Owing to its cascade structure, the stream was a factor underlying the formation of mineral-polymeric aggregates (named “lithocytes”) in the small natural streambed cavities (dimples)—as well as a factor of their further spread within larger geological locations which played a role of chemo-ecological niches. All three main stages of prebiotic evolution (primary organic synthesis, polycondensation, and formation of proto-cellular structures) are combined within a common dynamic geological process. We suppose macromolecular evolution had an extremely fast, “flash” start: the period from volcanic eruption to formation of lithocyte “populations” took not million years but just several tens of minutes. The scenario proposed can be verified experimentally with a three-module setup working with principles of dynamic (flow) chemistry in its core element.


Abiogenesis Volcanism Prebiotic chemistry Flow chemistry Translation 



We are sincerely grateful to Vladimir Skoblikov for valuable collaboration and to Alexey Agafonov who provided substantial assistance in preparing the English version of this text.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of MicrobiologyKrasnodar Research Center of Zootechny and VeterinaryKrasnodarRussia
  2. 2.Medical Laboratory “CL”KrasnodarRussia
  3. 3.Laboratory of Molecular MicrobiologyInstitute of Biochemistry and Physiology of MicroorganismsPushchinoRussia

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