Special Issue "The Origin and Early Evolution of Life: Prebiotic Chemistry of Biomolecules"

A special issue of Life (ISSN 2075-1729). This special issue belongs to the section "Chemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 December 2018

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Michele Fiore

Institute of Molecular and Supramolecular Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Lyon, Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Villeurbanne Cedex, France
Website | E-Mail
Interests: systems chemistry; system biology; prebiotic chemistry of biomolecules; origin of life; prebiotic synthesis of amphiphiles; total synthesis of phospholipids; sythesis of fluorescent clickable probles; glycolipids; radical reactons; evolvable molecular systems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

What is life? How, where, and when did life arise? These questions have remained most-fascinating over the last hundred years. It is a common opinion, in accord with the words of David Deamer, that “life can emerge where physics and chemistry intersect”. However, this sentence do not exclude biology, astrophysics, geochemistry, geophysics, planetology, earth science, bioinformatics, complexity theory, mathematics and philosophy from the equation. From an evolutionary chemical point of view, is possible to presume that life emerged from a mixture of inanimate matter: Organic and inorganic compounds. Such compounds reacted under favorable conditions, forming molecules that are commonly called “biotic” and that, thanks to a kind of self-organization, gave rise to the first biopolymers and to proto-metabolisms.

This Special Issue has the ultimate aim to summarize the latest discoveries regarding the chemical origins of biotic molecules. Although astrochemical evolution has only been able to give rise to very simple chemical compounds, only the pioneering experiment of Miller (and related experiments) has proven that it is possible to form some of the most relevant biotic bricks fromsimple inorganic compounds In recent years, dozens of excellent reviews and articles appeared in the literature and some breakthroughs have already been achieved. However, a great dealof work remains to be done. I am deeply convinced that, beyond the borders of the traditional domains of scientific activity, the multidisciplinary character of the present Special Issue leaves space for anyone to creatively contribute to any aspect of these and related relevant topics. We hope that the presented works will be stimulating for a new generation of scientists that are taking their first steps in this fascinating field. Submission of original reserach, scientific perspectives and literature reviews on this topic are deeply encouraged.

This Special Issue is cooperating with the conference on Science of Early Life at McMaster University on June 24th-27th (http://origins.mcmaster.ca/early-life). All participants at this conference are invited to submit a manuscript for publication in this issue. If you are intending to do this, please contact Paul Higgs and Michele Fiore.

Dr. Michele Fiore

Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Life is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 650 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Prebiotic chemistry
  • Origin of life
  • Prebiotic molecules
  • Amphiphiles
  • Dynamic chemical complexity
  • Evolvable molecular systems
  • Protocells
  • Proto-metabolims
  • Energy storage
  • Chemical evolution

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessReview Chemomimesis and Molecular Darwinism in Action: From Abiotic Generation of Nucleobases to Nucleosides and RNA
Received: 23 May 2018 / Revised: 14 June 2018 / Accepted: 19 June 2018 / Published: 20 June 2018
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Molecular Darwinian evolution is an intrinsic property of reacting pools of molecules resulting in the adaptation of the system to changing conditions. It has no a priori aim. From the point of view of the origin of life, Darwinian selection behavior, when spontaneously
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Molecular Darwinian evolution is an intrinsic property of reacting pools of molecules resulting in the adaptation of the system to changing conditions. It has no a priori aim. From the point of view of the origin of life, Darwinian selection behavior, when spontaneously emerging in the ensembles of molecules composing prebiotic pools, initiates subsequent evolution of increasingly complex and innovative chemical information. On the conservation side, it is a posteriori observed that numerous biological processes are based on prebiotically promptly made compounds, as proposed by the concept of Chemomimesis. Molecular Darwinian evolution and Chemomimesis are principles acting in balanced cooperation in the frame of Systems Chemistry. The one-pot synthesis of nucleosides in radical chemistry conditions is possibly a telling example of the operation of these principles. Other indications of similar cases of molecular evolution can be found among biogenic processes. Full article

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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

"*Tentative title:* Organocatalysis and Microcompartments in Prebiotic Systems. What can we learn from modern synthetic organic reactions?
Tentative authors: Tecla Gasperi and Pasquale Stano (but we intend to involve also our young co-workers)
Abstract: The manuscript will describe the conceptual and practical importance of organocatalytic mechanisms in basic and applied science, with a special reference to those occurring in water or in a lipid matrix. The text will provide firstly a general introduction to organocatalysis, its reasons, origins and development in modern organic chemistry, then it will focus on specific examples of prebiotic importance. The occurrence of organocatalytic reaction in liposome lumen and liposome membrane will be presented/proposed/discussed. "
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