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Life (Basel). 2018 Sep 20;8(4). pii: E39. doi: 10.3390/life8040039.

Geochemistry and the Origin of Life: From Extraterrestrial Processes, Chemical Evolution on Earth, Fossilized Life's Records, to Natures of the Extant Life.

Author information

1
Department of Earth and Space Science, Osaka University, Toyonaka, Osaka 560-0043, Japan. satoru@ess.sci.osaka-u.ac.jp.
2
Undergraduate School of Physics, Osaka University, Toyonaka, Osaka 560-0043, Japan. satoru@ess.sci.osaka-u.ac.jp.
3
Department of Earth and Space Science, Osaka University, Toyonaka, Osaka 560-0043, Japan. kebukawa@ynu.ac.jp.
4
Faculty of Engineering, Yokohama National University, 79-5 Tokiwadai, Hodogaya-ku, Yokohama 240-8501, Japan. kebukawa@ynu.ac.jp.
5
Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2-12-1, Ookayama, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-8550, Japan. nkitadai@elsi.jp.
6
Department of Subsurface Geobiological Analysis and Research, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), Kanagawa 237-0061, Japan. igisu@jamstec.go.jp.
7
Undergraduate School of Physics, Osaka University, Toyonaka, Osaka 560-0043, Japan. nmatsuoka@ess.sci.osaka-u.ac.jp.

Abstract

In 2001, the first author (S.N.) led the publication of a book entitled "Geochemistry and the origin of life" in collaboration with Dr. Andre Brack aiming to figure out geo- and astro-chemical processes essential for the emergence of life. Since then, a great number of research progress has been achieved in the relevant topics from our group and others, ranging from the extraterrestrial inputs of life's building blocks, the chemical evolution on Earth with the aid of mineral catalysts, to the fossilized records of ancient microorganisms. Here, in addition to summarizing these findings for the origin and early evolution of life, we propose a new hypothesis for the generation and co-evolution of photosynthesis with the redox and photochemical conditions on the Earth's surface. Besides these bottom-up approaches, we introduce an experimental study on the role of water molecules in the life's function, focusing on the transition from live, dormant, and dead states through dehydration/hydration. Further spectroscopic studies on the hydrogen bonding behaviors of water molecules in living cells will provide important clues to solve the complex nature of life.

KEYWORDS:

biopolymers; building blocks; extraterrestrial inputs; hydrogen bonding (9: 3-10); metabolism; mineral surfaces; photosynthesis; polymerization; water

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