The Role of Lipid Membranes in Life’s Origin
Department of Biomolecular Engineering, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
Academic Editor: Pier Luigi Luisi
Life 2017, 7(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/life7010005
Received: 13 December 2016 / Revised: 6 January 2017 / Accepted: 9 January 2017 / Published: 17 January 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Emergence of Life: From Chemical Origins to Synthetic Biology)
At some point in early evolution, life became cellular. Assuming that this step was required for the origin of life, there would necessarily be a pre-existing source of amphihilic compounds capable of assembling into membranous compartments. It is possible to make informed guesses about the properties of such compounds and the conditions most conducive to their self-assembly into boundary structures. The membranes were likely to incorporate mixtures of hydrocarbon derivatives between 10 and 20 carbons in length with carboxylate or hydroxyl head groups. Such compounds can be synthesized by chemical reactions and small amounts were almost certainly present in the prebiotic environment. Membrane assembly occurs most readily in low ionic strength solutions with minimal content of salt and divalent cations, which suggests that cellular life began in fresh water pools associated with volcanic islands rather than submarine hydrothermal vents. View Full-Text►▼ Show Figures
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
MDPI and ACS Style
Deamer, D. The Role of Lipid Membranes in Life’s Origin. Life 2017, 7, 5.
AMA StyleShow more citation formats Show less citations formats
Deamer D. The Role of Lipid Membranes in Life’s Origin. Life. 2017; 7(1):5.Chicago/Turabian Style
Deamer, David. 2017. "The Role of Lipid Membranes in Life’s Origin." Life 7, no. 1: 5.
Find Other Styles
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.