Evolution of Models for Evolution

  • Duane L. Rohlfing


Of the many accomplishments of Professor Oparin, two are outstanding. His experimental investigations with coacervate droplets, designed and interpreted in the context of the origin of life, have provided much insight into the origins and evolution of protocells. Of even greater overall impact is his pioneering hypothesis concerning the origin of life that suggested conditions, chemical species, and processes of prebiotic evolution. He has presented us with a theoretical model for molecular and cellular evolution.


Nonproteinous Amino Acid Polyamino Acid Tamic Acid Prebiotic Evolution Reactant Amino Acid 
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.

Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Levins, R., “Evolution in Changing Environments,” Chapter 1, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1968.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Early studies of coacervation phenomena provided early experimental support for part of the model.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Fox, T. O., in: “Molecular Evolution: Prebiological and Biological” ( Rohlfing, D. L., and Oparin, A. I., eds.), p. 35, Plenum Press, New York, 1972.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Fox, S. W., Am. Biol. Teacher 36, 161 (1974).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Fox, S. W., and Dose, K., “Molecular Evolution and the Origin of Life,” W. H. Freeman and Co., San Francisco, 1972.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Vegotsky, A., and Fox, S. W., in: “Comparative Biochemistry” (Florkin, M., and Mason, H. S., eds.), vol. IV, p. 185, Academic Press, New York, 1962.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Fox, S. W., Harada, K., and Rohlfing, D. L., in: “Polyamino Acids, Polypeptides, and Proteins” ( Stahmann, M., ed.), p. 47, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 1962.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Jukes, T. H., “Molecules and Evolution,” p. 65ff, Columbia University Press, New York, 1966.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Jukes, T., Abstr. of Paper 34, Fourth International Conference on the Origin of Life, Barcelona, 1973.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    The evolutionary relevance and analytical thoroughness of these and other experiments may be, of course, subject to question. The results, however, have been used as reported, for the purpose of additional experimental study of other parameters; errors may thereby be propagated.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Cronin, J. R., and Moore, C. B., Science 172, 1327 (1971).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kvenvolden, K., Lawless, J., Pering, K., Peterson, E., Flores, J., Ponnamperuma, C., Kaplan, I. R., and Moore, C., Nature 228, 923 (1970).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Harada, K., Hare, P. E., Windsor, C. R., and Fox, S. W., Science 173, 433 (1971).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Fox, S. W., Harada, K., and Hare, P. E.,Space Life Sciences 3, 425 (1972); Gehrke, C. W., Zumwalt, R. W., Kuo, K., Rash, J. J., Aue, W. A., Stalling, D. L., Kvenvolden, K. A., and Ponnamperuma, C., ibid., p. 439.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Although natural fractionations to yield mixtures of amino acids rich in glutamic and aspartic acids can be envisioned, means for fractionating all proteinous from all nonproteinous amino acids are not apparent; cf. Rohlfing, D. L., and Saunders, M. A., Abstr. of Paper Bc4, Ninth International Congress of Biochemistry, Stockholm, 1973.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Saunders, M. A., and Rohlfing, D. L., Science 176, 172 (1972).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    α-Aminoisobutyric acid was not incorporated in all cases.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Sagan, C., in: “The Origins of Prebiological Systems” ( Fox, S. W., ed.), p. 200, Academic Press, New York, 1965.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Holland, H. D., in: “Petrologic Studies: A Volume to Honor A. F. Buddington” (Engel, A. E., James, H. L., and Leonard, B. F., eds.), p. 466, Geological Society of America, New York, 1962.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Haldane, J.B.S., in: “The Origins of Prebiological Systems” ( Fox, S. W., ed.), p. 201, Academic Press, New York, 1965.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Fouche, C. E., and Rohlfing, D. L., Federation Proc. 32, 640 Abs (1973); Fouche, C. E., Ph.D. dissertation, University of South Carolina, 1973.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    The amino acids occur in precursor form, water being needed to generate free amino acids. The amino acids are regarded as being indicative of extraterrestrial sets formed (given water) in natural experiments; the question of whether correct conditions were used in simulated prebiotic experiments is thus avoided. The experiments reported here attempt to mimic general extraterrestrial conditions but not specifically lunar or meteoritic conditions. Lunar thermal energy, however, has been documented [Keays, R. R., Ganapathy, R., Laul, J. C., Anders, E., Herzog, G. F., and Jeffery, P. M., Science 167, 490 (1970); Skinner, B. J., ibid., p. 652].Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Signs of molecular evolution on other planets are currently being sought. A potential costly error is inherent in expectations and analytical devices that are based on simulated experiments conducted at pressures not germane to the planet in question. Cf. Fox, S. W., Bull. Atomic Scientists 29 (10), 46 (1973).Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Harada, K., and Fox, S. W., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 80, 2694 (1958).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Fox, S. W., Nature 201, 336 (1964).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Miller, S. L., Biochim. Biophys. Acta 23, 480 (1957).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    The proportions of gases we used mimicked Miller’s proportion only briefly, because the latter continually changed throughout the reaction due to the use of a closed system.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Harada, K., and Fox, S. W., in: “The Origins of Prebiological Systems” ( Fox, S. W., ed.), p. 187, Academic Press, New York, 1965.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Lowe, C. U., Rees, M. W., and Markham, R., Nature 199, 219 (1963).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Miller, S. L., and Orgel, L. E., “The Origins of Life on the Earth,” p. 145, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1974.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Snyder, W. D., and Fox, S. W., Federation Proc. 32, 640Abs (1973).Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Hanafusa, H., and Akabori, S., Bull. Chem. Soc. Japan 32, 626 (1959).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Paecht-Horowitz, M., Angew. Chem. 12, 349 (1973).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Apollo 15 Preliminary Examination Team, Science 175, 363 (1972).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    The experiments of Herrera are of interest in this context [e. g., Herrera, A. L., in: “Colloid Chemistry” (Alexander, J., ed.), vol. II, p. 81, The Chemical Catalog Company, New York, 1928 ].Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Fox, S. W., J. Evolut. Biochem. Physiol. 6, 131 (1970); cf. Fox, this volume.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Rohlfing, D. L., Origins of Life, in press (1974).Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    On appropriate treatment, microspheres from acidic proteinoid are reported to resemble coacervate droplets in some ways [Smith, A. E., and Bellware, F. T., Science 152, 362 (1966); cf. also Young, R. S., in: “The Origins of Prebiological Sys-tems” ( Fox, S. W., ed.), p. 347, Academic Press, New York, 1965 ].Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Matthews, C. N., and Moser, R. E., Nature 215, 1230 (1967).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Ferris, J. P., Donner, D. B., and Lobo, A. P., J. Mol. Biol. 74, 499 (1973).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Fox, S. W., Bull. Atomic Scientists 29 (10), 46 (1973).Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Both thermal and electrical energies are involved in spark discharge experiments; electrical energy alone gives different results (ref. 26).Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Keosian, J., in: “Molecular Evolution: Prebiological and Biological” (Rohlfing, D. L., and Oparin, A. I., eds.), p. 9, Plenum Press, New York, 1972; cf. Keosian, this volume.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Some experiments have been conducted on a small scale on geological material, rather than in glassware; e. g., ref. 25.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Pattee, H. H., in: “Molecular Evolution” ( Buvet, R., and Ponnamperuma, C., eds.), p. 42, North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1971.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Daly, R. A., “Architecture of the Earth,” p. 1, Appleton-Century Co., New York, 1938.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    R. Levins [Am. Scientist 54, 421 (1966)] has pointed out that a model is discarded when the current issues are no longer those for which it was designed.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Piatt, J. R., Science 146, 347 (1964).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Interpretations of mechanisms might become very difficult; fortunately, results are more important (cf. Keosian, this volume) than details of mechanism in constructionistic approaches to molecular evolution.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Duane L. Rohlfing
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

Personalised recommendations