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Hydrothermal Microflow Technology as a Research Tool for Origin-of-Life Studies in Extreme Earth Environments

Department of Human Environmental Studies, Hiroshima Shudo University, Ozuka-higashi, Asaminami-ku, Hiroshima 731-3195, Japan
Received: 31 August 2017 / Revised: 25 September 2017 / Accepted: 30 September 2017 / Published: 2 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hydrothermal Vents or Hydrothermal Fields: Challenging Paradigms)
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Abstract

Although studies about the origin of life are a frontier in science and a number of effective approaches have been developed, drawbacks still exist. Examples include: (1) simulation of chemical evolution experiments (which were demonstrated for the first time by Stanley Miller); (2) approaches tracing back the most primitive life-like systems (on the basis of investigations of present organisms); and (3) constructive approaches for making life-like systems (on the basis of molecular biology), such as in vitro construction of the RNA world. Naturally, simulation experiments of chemical evolution under plausible ancient Earth environments have been recognized as a potentially fruitful approach. Nevertheless, simulation experiments seem not to be sufficient for identifying the scenario from molecules to life. This is because primitive Earth environments are still not clearly defined and a number of possibilities should be taken into account. In addition, such environments frequently comprise extreme conditions when compared to the environments of present organisms. Therefore, we need to realize the importance of accurate and convenient experimental approaches that use practical research tools, which are resistant to high temperature and pressure, to facilitate chemical evolution studies. This review summarizes improvements made in such experimental approaches over the last two decades, focusing primarily on our hydrothermal microflow reactor technology. Microflow reactor systems are a powerful tool for performing simulation experiments in diverse simulated hydrothermal Earth conditions in order to measure the kinetics of formation and degradation and the interactions of biopolymers. View Full-Text
Keywords: hydrothermal; reaction kinetics; in situ spectroscopy; millisecond time scale; RNA; protein; mineral; high temperature and pressure; Hadean environment hydrothermal; reaction kinetics; in situ spectroscopy; millisecond time scale; RNA; protein; mineral; high temperature and pressure; Hadean environment
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Kawamura, K. Hydrothermal Microflow Technology as a Research Tool for Origin-of-Life Studies in Extreme Earth Environments. Life 2017, 7, 37.

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