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The Minimal Cell

The Biophysics of Cell Compartment and the Origin of Cell Functionality

  • Book
  • © 2011


  • It gives an up-to-date view of experimental research on the construction of advanced cell models based on liposomes
  • Biophysical, biochemical, genetic and computational approaches are presented
  • One of the most intriguing and challenging aspects of the emerging synthetic biology
  • Includes supplementary material:

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Table of contents (15 chapters)

  1. The Physical Aspects

  2. Steps Towards Functionality

  3. Steps towards Functionality

  4. Steps Towards Minimal Life

  5. Steps towards Minimal Life


About this book

In the last ten years there has been a considerable increase of interest on the notion of the minimal cell. With this term we usually mean a cell-like structure containing the minimal and sufficient number of components to be defined as alive, or at least capable of displaying some of the fundamental functions of a living cell. In fact, when we look at extant living cells we realize that thousands of molecules are organized spatially and functionally in order to realize what we call cellular life. This fact elicits the question whether such huge complexity is a necessary condition for life, or a simpler molecular system can also be defined as alive. Obviously, the concept of minimal cell encompasses entire families of cells, from totally synthetic cells, to semi-synthetic ones, to primitive cell models, to simple biomimetic cellular systems. Typically, in the experimental approach to the construction of minimal the main ingredient is the compartment. Lipid vesicles (liposomes) are used to host simple and complex molecular transformations, from single or multiple enzymic reactions, to polymerase chain reactions, to gene expression. Today this research is seen as part of the broader scenario of synthetic biology but it is rooted in origins of life studies, because the construction of a minimal cell might provide biophysical insights into the origins of primitive cells, and the emergence of life on earth. The volume provides an overview of physical, biochemical and functional studies on minimal cells, with emphasis to experimental approaches. 15 International experts report on their innovative contributions to the construction of minimal cells.

Editors and Affiliations

  • Dipto. Biologia, Università Roma Tre, Roma, Italy

    Pier Luigi Luisi

  • , Biology Department, University of Roma Tre, Rome, Italy

    Pasquale Stano

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: The Minimal Cell

  • Book Subtitle: The Biophysics of Cell Compartment and the Origin of Cell Functionality

  • Editors: Pier Luigi Luisi, Pasquale Stano

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Dordrecht

  • eBook Packages: Biomedical and Life Sciences, Biomedical and Life Sciences (R0)

  • Copyright Information: Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-90-481-9943-3Published: 03 November 2010

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-94-017-8158-9Published: 25 November 2014

  • eBook ISBN: 978-90-481-9944-0Published: 01 November 2010

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: X, 298

  • Topics: Biomedicine general, Biotechnology, Cell Biology, Gene Expression

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