Experimental Simulations of Possible Origins of Life: Conceptual and Practical Issues

  • Henry Strasdeit
  • Stefan Fox
Part of the Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology book series (COLE, volume 28)


The search for habitable planets and moons includes the search for locations where conditions are or were favorable for the origin of life. The geochemical and geophysical conditions that prevailed on Earth and Mars ∼4 billion years ago are approximately known and can be reasonably simulated in laboratory experiments. Such experiments may reveal general principles of chemical evolution that can be transferred to prebiotic chemical processes on other planets and moons. We discuss some concepts that may be useful in assessing the prebiotic plausibility of simulation experiments. One of these concepts is the clear distinction between primordial-soup (or “spontaneous”) and protometabolic abiotic synthesis of organic molecules. We also suggest that some well-established principles of evolutionary biology, such as intensification of function and cooption/preadaptation, can be beneficially applied to chemical evolution. Finally, technical aspects of simulation experiments are briefly discussed. Some examples are given of how prebiotic conditions are translated into experimental design.


Chemical Evolution Prebiotic Chemistry Carbonyl Sulfide Prebiotic Condition Abiotic Synthesis 
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.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Bioinorganic ChemistryUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany

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