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Life, Volume 2, Issue 4 (December 2012), Pages 274-391

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Bioavailability of Metal Ions and Evolutionary Adaptation
Life 2012, 2(4), 274-285; doi:10.3390/life2040274
Received: 1 October 2012 / Revised: 11 October 2012 / Accepted: 19 October 2012 / Published: 29 October 2012
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1617 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The evolution of life on earth has been a long process that began nearly 3,5 x 109 years ago. In their initial moments, evolution was mainly influenced by anaerobic environments; with the rise of O2 and the corresponding change in [...] Read more.
The evolution of life on earth has been a long process that began nearly 3,5 x 109 years ago. In their initial moments, evolution was mainly influenced by anaerobic environments; with the rise of O2 and the corresponding change in bioavailability of metal ions, new mechanisms of survival were created. Here we review the relationships between ancient atmospheric conditions, metal ion bioavailability and adaptation of metals homeostasis during early evolution. A general picture linking geochemistry, biochemistry and homeostasis is supported by the reviewed literature and is further illustrated in this report using simple database searches. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Life Sciences)
Open AccessArticle Chromosome Replication in Escherichia coli: Life on the Scales
Life 2012, 2(4), 286-312; doi:10.3390/life2040286
Received: 15 September 2012 / Revised: 1 October 2012 / Accepted: 15 October 2012 / Published: 29 October 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (260 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
At all levels of Life, systems evolve on the 'scales of equilibria'. At the level of bacteria, the individual cell must favor one of two opposing strategies and either take risks to grow or avoid risks to survive. It has been proposed [...] Read more.
At all levels of Life, systems evolve on the 'scales of equilibria'. At the level of bacteria, the individual cell must favor one of two opposing strategies and either take risks to grow or avoid risks to survive. It has been proposed in the Dualism hypothesis that the growth and survival strategies depend on non-equilibrium and equilibrium hyperstructures, respectively. It has been further proposed that the cell cycle itself is the way cells manage to balance the ratios of these types of hyperstructure so as to achieve the compromise solution of living on the two scales. Here, we attempt to re-interpret a major event, the initiation of chromosome replication in Escherichia coli, in the light of scales of equilibria. This entails thinking in terms of hyperstructures as responsible for intensity sensing and quantity sensing and how this sensing might help explain the role of the DnaA protein in initiation of replication. We outline experiments and an automaton approach to the cell cycle that should test and refine the scales concept. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Life Sciences)
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Open AccessArticle The Chemical Origin of Behavior is Rooted in Abiogenesis
Life 2012, 2(4), 313-322; doi:10.3390/life2040313
Received: 6 August 2012 / Revised: 29 September 2012 / Accepted: 2 November 2012 / Published: 7 November 2012
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (201 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We describe the initial realization of behavior in the biosphere, which we term behavioral chemistry. If molecules are complex enough to attain a stochastic element to their structural conformation in such as a way as to radically affect their function in a [...] Read more.
We describe the initial realization of behavior in the biosphere, which we term behavioral chemistry. If molecules are complex enough to attain a stochastic element to their structural conformation in such as a way as to radically affect their function in a biological (evolvable) setting, then they have the capacity to behave. This circumstance is described here as behavioral chemistry, unique in its definition from the colloquial chemical behavior.  This transition between chemical behavior and behavioral chemistry need be explicit when discussing the root cause of behavior, which itself lies squarely at the origins of life and is the foundation of choice.  RNA polymers of sufficient length meet the criteria for behavioral chemistry and therefore are capable of making a choice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Paper)
Open AccessArticle Quantum Biological Channel Modeling and Capacity Calculation
Life 2012, 2(4), 377-391; doi:10.3390/life2040377
Received: 12 October 2012 / Revised: 4 December 2012 / Accepted: 5 December 2012 / Published: 10 December 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (241 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Quantum mechanics has an important role in photosynthesis, magnetoreception, and evolution. There were many attempts in an effort to explain the structure of genetic code and transfer of information from DNA to protein by using the concepts of quantum mechanics. The existing [...] Read more.
Quantum mechanics has an important role in photosynthesis, magnetoreception, and evolution. There were many attempts in an effort to explain the structure of genetic code and transfer of information from DNA to protein by using the concepts of quantum mechanics. The existing biological quantum channel models are not sufficiently general to incorporate all relevant contributions responsible for imperfect protein synthesis. Moreover, the problem of determination of quantum biological channel capacity is still an open problem. To solve these problems, we construct the operator-sum representation of biological channel based on codon basekets (basis vectors), and determine the quantum channel model suitable for study of the quantum biological channel capacity and beyond. The transcription process, DNA point mutations, insertions, deletions, and translation are interpreted as the quantum noise processes. The various types of quantum errors are classified into several broad categories: (i) storage errors that occur in DNA itself as it represents an imperfect storage of genetic information, (ii) replication errors introduced during DNA replication process, (iii) transcription errors introduced during DNA to mRNA transcription, and (iv) translation errors introduced during the translation process. By using this model, we determine the biological quantum channel capacity and compare it against corresponding classical biological channel capacity. We demonstrate that the quantum biological channel capacity is higher than the classical one, for a coherent quantum channel model, suggesting that quantum effects have an important role in biological systems. The proposed model is of crucial importance towards future study of quantum DNA error correction, developing quantum mechanical model of aging, developing the quantum mechanical models for tumors/cancer, and study of intracellular dynamics in general. Full article

Review

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Open AccessReview Molecular Mechanisms of Survival Strategies in Extreme Conditions
Life 2012, 2(4), 364-376; doi:10.3390/life2040364
Received: 24 October 2012 / Revised: 8 November 2012 / Accepted: 26 November 2012 / Published: 7 December 2012
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (532 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Today, one of the major challenges in biophysics is to disclose the molecular mechanisms underlying biological processes. In such a frame, the understanding of the survival strategies in extreme conditions received a lot of attention both from the scientific and applicative points [...] Read more.
Today, one of the major challenges in biophysics is to disclose the molecular mechanisms underlying biological processes. In such a frame, the understanding of the survival strategies in extreme conditions received a lot of attention both from the scientific and applicative points of view. Since nature provides precious suggestions to be applied for improving the quality of life, extremophiles are considered as useful model-systems. The main goal of this review is to present an overview of some systems, with a particular emphasis on trehalose playing a key role in several extremophile organisms. The attention is focused on the relation among the structural and dynamic properties of biomolecules and bioprotective mechanisms, as investigated by complementary spectroscopic techniques at low- and high-temperature values. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extremophiles and Extreme Environments)

Other

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Open AccessEssay Life’s Order, Complexity, Organization, and Its Thermodynamic–Holistic Imperatives
Life 2012, 2(4), 323-363; doi:10.3390/life2040323
Received: 10 September 2012 / Revised: 30 October 2012 / Accepted: 5 November 2012 / Published: 13 November 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (385 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In memoriam Jeffrey S. Wicken (1942–2002)—the evolutionarily minded biochemist, who in the 1970/80s strived for a synthesis of biological and physical theories to fathom the tentative origins of life. Several integrative concepts are worth remembering from Wicken’s legacy. (i) Connecting life’s origins [...] Read more.
In memoriam Jeffrey S. Wicken (1942–2002)—the evolutionarily minded biochemist, who in the 1970/80s strived for a synthesis of biological and physical theories to fathom the tentative origins of life. Several integrative concepts are worth remembering from Wicken’s legacy. (i) Connecting life’s origins and complex organization to a preexisting physical world demands a thermodynamically sound transition. (ii) Energetic ‘charging’ of the prebiosphere must precede the emergence of biological organization. (iii) Environmental energy gradients are exploited progressively, approaching maximum interactive structure and minimum dissipation. (iv) Dynamic self-assembly of prebiotic organic matter is driven by hydrophobic tension between water and amphiphilic building blocks, such as aggregating peptides from non-polar amino acids and base stacking in nucleic acids. (v) The dynamics of autocatalytic self-organization are facilitated by a multiplicity of weak interactions, such as hydrogen bonding, within and between macromolecular assemblies. (vi) The coevolution of (initially uncoded) proteins and nucleic acids in energy-coupled and metabolically active so-called ‘microspheres’ is more realistic as a kinetic transition model of primal biogenesis than ‘hypercycle replication’ theories for nucleic acid replicators on their own. All these considerations blend well with the current understanding that sunlight UV-induced photo-electronic excitation of colloidal metal sulfide particles appears most suitable as a prebiotic driver of organic synthesis reactions, in tight cooperation with organic, phase-separated, catalytic ‘microspheres’. On the ‘continuist vs. miraculist’ schism described by Iris Fry for origins-of-life considerations (Table 1), Wicken was a fervent early protagonist of holistic ‘continuist’ views and agenda. Full article
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