Albany 2013: Book of Abstracts

category image Albany 2013
Conversation 18
June 11-15 2013
©Adenine Press (2012)

Inversion Approach to the Origin of Life: Theoretical Notions and Experimental Data

The essence of the inversion concept of the origin of life can be narrowed down to the following theses: 1) thermodynamic inversion is the key transformation of prebiotic microsystems leading to their transition into primary forms of life; 2) this transformation might occur only in the microsystems oscillating around the bifurcation point under far-from-equilibrium conditions. The transformation consists in the inversion of the balance “free energy contribution / entropy contribution” (as well as “information contribution / informational entropy contribution”), from negative to positive values. At the inversion moment the microsystem radically reorganizes in accordance with the new negentropy (i.e. biological) way of organization. According to this concept, the origin-of-life process on the early Earth took place in oscillating hydrothermal medium. The process was taking two successive stages: a) spontaneous self-assembly of initial three-dimensional prebiotic microsystems composed mainly of hydrocarbons, lipids and simple amino acids, or their precursors, within the temperature interval of 100-300ºC (prebiotic stage); b) non-spontaneous synthesis of sugars, ATP and nucleic acids started at the inversion moment under the temperature 70-100ºC (biotic stage). Macro- and microfluctuations of thermodynamic and physico-chemical parameters able to sustain this way of chemical conversion have been detected in several contemporary hydrothermal systems (Kompanichenko, 2012).

Conditions in potential hydrothermal medium for the origin of life were explored on the examples of several hydrothermal systems in Kamchatka peninsula. Temperature of water in hot springs ranges from < 60 to 98 ºC, in the bore holes water-steam temperature varies from < 100 to 239 ºC and pressure from < 1 to 35 bars at the wellheads; pH is within the interval 2.5-9.0. Pressure monitoring at the depth 950 meters in the borehole № 30 (Mutnovsky field) have revealed high-amplitude (up to 1-2 bars) irregular macrofluctuations, and low-amplitude quite regular microoscillations of pressure (amplitudes 0.1-0.3 bars). Hydrocarbons, lipid precursors and simple amino acids are available in the fluid. The lifeless condensate of water-steam mixture (temperature 108-175 ºC) contains aromatic hydrocarbons, n-alkanes, ketons, alcohols, aldehydes. In addition to those, cycloalkanes, alkenes, dietoxyalkanes, naphtenes, fatty acids, ethyl ethers of fatty acids, monoglycerides have been detected in hot solutions inhabited by thermophiles and hyperthermophiles (temperature 70-98 ºC). According to Mukhin et al (1979), glycine of probably abiotic origination was detected in lifeless condensate.

This research has been supported by the grants RFBR № 12-05-98517 and FEB RAS 12-I-П28-05.


    V.N. Kompanichenko (2012). Inversion concept of the origin of life. Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres 42, 153-178.

    L.M. Mukhin, V.B. Bondarev, E.A. Vakin (1979). Amino acids in the thermae of Southern Kamchatka. Doklady AN USSR 244, 974-977 (in Russian).

Vladimir N. Kompanichenko

Institute for Complex Analysis
Russian Academy of Science
Birobidzhan 679016, Russia

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