Prebiotic chemistry, artificial life, and complexity theory: What do they tell us about the origin of biological systems?

  • Antonio Lazcano
2. Origins of Life and Evolution
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 929)


Although the origin of self-sustaining, autoreplicating systems capable of undergoing Darwinian evolution is still unknown, a research program based on the hypothesis of chemical and precellular evolution has provided a framework within which the abiotic synthesis of biochemical monomers and membrane components, the experimental study of replicative systems, and the interactions between different ribozymes and a potentially wide range of substrates including amino acids, can be incorporated into a coherent historical narrative of evolutionary events. The significance of mathematical models and computer-based simulations of autocatalytic cycles based on complexity theory to the study of the origin of life will be considerable enhanced when experimental evidence supporting them becomes available.


prebiotic chemistry precellular evolution RNA world 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bachmann, P. A., Luisi, P. L., and Lang, J. (1992) Nature 357: 57–59Google Scholar
  2. Cairns-Smith, A. G. (1982) Genetic Takeover and the Mineral Origins of Life (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge)Google Scholar
  3. Chyba, C. F., Thomas, P. J., and Sagan, C. (1990) Science 249: 366–373PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Crick, F. H. C. (1968) Jour. Mol. Biol. 38, 367–379Google Scholar
  5. de Duve, Ch. (1995) Vital Dust: life as a cosmic imperative (Harper Collins Publ. Co., New York)Google Scholar
  6. Doudna, J. A. and Szostak, J. W. (1989) Nature 339: 519–522PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Drobner, E., Huber, H., WÄchtershÄuser, G., Rose, D., and Stetter, K. O. (1990) Nature 346: 742–744Google Scholar
  8. Eigen, M. and Schuster, P. (1978) Naturwissenschaften 65: 341–369Google Scholar
  9. Ferris, J. P., Joshi, P. C., Edelson, E. H., and Lawless, J. M. (1978) J. Mol. Evol. 11: 293–311PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Gesteland, R. F. and Atkins, J. F. (eds.) The RNA World (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Cold Spring Harbor, NY)Google Scholar
  11. Hong, J. I., Feng, Q., Rotello, V., and Rebek, J. Jr. (1992) Science 255: 848–850Google Scholar
  12. Illangasekare, M., Sanchez, G., Nickles, T., and Yarus, M. (1995) Science 267: 643–647Google Scholar
  13. Joyce, G. F., Schwartz, A. W., Orgel, L. E., and Miller, S. L. (1987) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 84: 4398–4402PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Kauffman, S. A. (1993) The Origins of Order: self-organization and selection in evolution (Oxford University Press, Oxford), 709 pp.Google Scholar
  15. Lazcano, A. (1994) In S. Bengtson (ed), Early Life on Earth: Nobel Symposium No. 84 (Columbia University Press, New York), 60–69Google Scholar
  16. Lazcano, A. and Miller, S. L. (1994) Jour. Mol. Evol. 39: 546–554Google Scholar
  17. Majerfeld, I. and Yarus, M. (1994) Nature Struct. Biol. 1: 287–289Google Scholar
  18. Miller, S. L. (1953) Science 117: 528–529PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Morowitz, H. J. (1992) Beginnings of Cellular Life: metabolism recapitulates biogenesis (Yale University Press, New Haven)Google Scholar
  20. Nielsen, P. E., Egholm, M., Berg, R. H., and Buchardt, O. (1991) Science 254: 1497–1500Google Scholar
  21. Oparin, A. I. (1924) Proiskhodenie Zhisni (Moscovky Rabotchii, Moscow)Google Scholar
  22. Oparin, A. I. (1938) The Origin of Life (MacMillan, New York)Google Scholar
  23. Orgel, L. E. (1968) Jour. Mol. Biol. 38, 381–393Google Scholar
  24. Orgel, L. E. (1987) Cold Spring Harbor Symp. Quant. Biol. 52, 9–16PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Orgel, L. E. (1992) Nature 358, 203–209Google Scholar
  26. Oro, J. (1960) Biochem. Biophys. Res. Comm. 2: 407–411Google Scholar
  27. Oro, J., Miller, S. L., Lazcano, A. (1990) Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 18: 317–356Google Scholar
  28. Robertson, M. D. and Miller, S. L. (1995) Science (in press)Google Scholar
  29. Schopf, J. W. (1993) Science 260: 640–646PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. WÄchtershÄuser, G. (1988) Microbiol. Rev. 52, 452–484PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Woese, C. R. (1967) The Genetic Code: the molecular basis for gene expression (Harper and Row, New York)Google Scholar
  32. Yarus, M. (1988) Biochemistry 28: 980–988Google Scholar
  33. Ycas, M. (1955) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 41: 714–716Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonio Lazcano
    • 1
  1. 1.Facultad de CienciasUNAMMéxicoD.F. Mexico

Personalised recommendations