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Biochimie. 2012 Jan;94(1):258-62. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2011.10.002. Epub 2011 Oct 20.

Origin of microbial life hypothesis: a gel cytoplasm lacking a bilayer membrane, with infrared radiation producing exclusion zone (EZ) water, hydrogen as an energy source and thermosynthesis for bioenergetics.

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  • 1Laboratory of Microbiology, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph, 50 Stone Rd., East, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1.


The hypothesis is proposed that pre-biotic bacterial cell(s) and the first cells capable of growth/division did not require a cytoplasmic membrane. A gel-like microscopic structure less than a cubic micrometer may have had a dual role as both an ancient pre-cytoplasm and a boundary layer to the higher-entropy external environment. The gel pre-cytoplasm exposed to radiant energy, especially in the infrared (IR) region of the EM spectrum resulted in the production of an exclusion zone (EZ) with a charge differential (-100 to -200 mV) and boundary that may have been a possible location for the latter organization of the first cytoplasmic membrane. Pre-biotic cells and then-living cells may have used hydrogen as the universal energy source, and thermosynthesis in their bioenergetic processes. These components will be discussed as to how they are interconnected, and their hypothesized roles in the origin of life.

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