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Genet Mol Res. 2007 Jun 20;6(2):358-73.

From geochemistry and biochemistry to prebiotic evolution...we necessarily enter into Gánti's fluid automata.

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  • 1Instituto de Genética Evolutiva y Biología Molecular, Universidad Manuel Beltrán, Bogotá DC, Colombia.


The present study is just an overview of the opening of the geochemical stage for the appearance of life. But that opening would not have been sufficient for the intellectual discovery of the origin of life! The excellent works and many commendable efforts that advance this explanation have not shown the fundamental elements that participate in the theoretical frame of biological evolution. The latter imply the existence of evolutionary transitions and the production of new levels of organization. In this brief analysis we do not intend to introduce the audience to the philosophy of biology. But we do expect to provide a modest overview, in which the geochemical chemolithoautotrophic opening of the stage should be seen, at most, as the initial metabolism that enabled organic compounds to follow the road where a chemical fluid machinery was thus able to undertake the more "sublime" course of organic biological evolution. We think that Tibor Gánti's chemoton is the most significant contribution to theoretical biology, and the only course now available to comprehend the unit of evolution problem without the structuralist and functionalist conflict prevalent in theoretical biology. In our opinion Gánti's chemoton theory travels to the "locus" where evolutionary theory dares to extend itself to entities at many levels of structural organization, beyond the gene or the group above. Therefore, in this and subsequent papers on the prebiotic conditions for the eventual appearance of the genetic code, we explore the formation and the presence of metal sulfide minerals, from the assembly of metal sulfide clusters through the precipitation of nanocrystals and the further reactions resulting in bulk metal sulfide phases. We endeavor to characterize pristine reactions and the modern surfaces, utilizing traditional surface science techniques and computational methods. Moreover, mechanistic details of the overall oxidation of metal sulfide minerals are set forth. We hope that this paper will lead our audience to accept that in a chemically oscillating system the chemoton is a model fluid state automaton capable of growth and self-reproduction. This is not simply a matter of transmitting a pattern, as in inorganic crystals; such self-reproduction must be more complex than crystal growth. Indeed that is what Gánti's theoretical and abstract model offers to us all: we finally have a philosophy of evolutionary units in theoretical biology.

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