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Formation and Stability of Prebiotically Relevant Vesicular Systems in Terrestrial Geothermal Environments

1
Department of Biology, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune 411008, India
2
Department of Earth and Climate Science, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune 411008, India
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 October 2017 / Revised: 23 November 2017 / Accepted: 28 November 2017 / Published: 30 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hydrothermal Vents or Hydrothermal Fields: Challenging Paradigms)
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Abstract

Terrestrial geothermal fields and oceanic hydrothermal vents are considered as candidate environments for the emergence of life on Earth. Nevertheless, the ionic strength and salinity of oceans present serious limitations for the self-assembly of amphiphiles, a process that is fundamental for the formation of first protocells. Consequently, we systematically characterized the efficiency of amphiphile assembly, and vesicular stability, in terrestrial geothermal environments, both, under simulated laboratory conditions and in hot spring water samples (collected from Ladakh, India, an Astrobiologically relevant site). Combinations of prebiotically pertinent fatty acids and their derivatives were evaluated for the formation of vesicles in aforesaid scenarios. Additionally, the stability of these vesicles was characterized over multiple dehydration-rehydration cycles, at elevated temperatures. Among the combinations that were tested, mixtures of fatty acid and its glycerol derivatives were found to be the most robust, also resulting in vesicles in all of the hot spring waters that were tested. Importantly, these vesicles were stable at high temperatures, and this fatty acid system retained its vesicle forming propensity, even after multiple cycles of dehydration-rehydration. The remaining systems, however, formed vesicles only in bicine buffer. Our results suggest that certain prebiotic compartments would have had a selective advantage in terrestrial geothermal niches. Significantly, our study highlights the importance of validating results that are obtained under ‘buffered’ laboratory conditions, by verifying their plausibility in prebiotically analogous environments. View Full-Text
Keywords: terrestrial geothermal fields; origins of life; protocells; prebiotic compartments; vesicle formation; temperature stability; hot spring; dehydration-rehydration; analogous environments terrestrial geothermal fields; origins of life; protocells; prebiotic compartments; vesicle formation; temperature stability; hot spring; dehydration-rehydration; analogous environments
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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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Joshi, M.P.; Samanta, A.; Tripathy, G.R.; Rajamani, S. Formation and Stability of Prebiotically Relevant Vesicular Systems in Terrestrial Geothermal Environments. Life 2017, 7, 51.

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