Hypothesized Microenvironments for the Origin of Microbial Life on Earth

  • Jack T. Trevors
  • Asim K. Bej
  • Jan Dirk van Elsas
Part of the Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology book series (COLE, volume 22)


The origin of life is still an enigma (Trevors, 2011; Trevors and Masson, 2011). Moreover, there is no generally accepted definition of life, which makes a delineation of the abiotic and biotic world difficult (Cleland and Chyba, 2002). A suite of characteristics is often used to define life. These include the ability of life to synthesize its own biomacromolecules, to generate and convert energy to various forms of cellular work, to perform informational biosynthetic processes to ensure storage of genetic instructions and reproduction; the ability to insulate the internal milieu and control exchanges with the external environment; and the ability to regulate activities and reproduce or multiply (De Duve, 1991). The transition from a lifeless chemosphere on Earth to the beginning of the living biosphere occurred about 4 billion years ago.


Mineral Surface Hydrothermal Vent Microbial Life Genetic Instruction Prebiotic Molecule 
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.



Research by J.T.T. is supported by the NSERC (Canada) Discovery Program; A. Bej’s work was supported by the UAB Faculty Development Award; Tawani Foundation (Col. James Pritzker), Chicago; NASA/NSSTC/VCSI Antarctic expedition (Marty Kress); NCAOR, India (Rasik Ravindra) and AARI/RAE, Russia.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jack T. Trevors
    • 1
  • Asim K. Bej
    • 2
  • Jan Dirk van Elsas
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Environmental Sciences, Laboratory of MicrobiologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA
  3. 3.LinneausborghUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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