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Open AccessArticlePost Publication Peer ReviewVersion 2, Revised

Thermodynamic Jump from Prebiotic Microsystems to Primary Living Cells (Version 2, Revised)

Institute for Complex Analysis, 4 Sholom Aleyhem Str., Birobidzhan 679016, Russia
Received: 25 June 2019 / Accepted: 28 June 2019 / Published: 6 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecules to Microbes)
Peer review status: 1st round review Read review reports

Reviewer 1 Vladimir Levchenko Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry of RAS, St.Petersburg, Russia Reviewer 2 Christos Georgiou University of Patras
Version 1
Original
Approved with revisions
Authors' response
Approved with revisions
Authors' response
Version 2
Revised
Approved Approved
Version 3
Approved
Version 3, Approved
Published: 13 March 2020
DOI: 10.3390/sci2010014
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Version 2, Revised
Published: 6 October 2019
DOI: 10.3390/sci1030058
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Version 1, Original
Published: 4 July 2019
DOI: 10.3390/sci1020035
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It is proposed that the primary living cells (“probionts”) cannot emerge of organic substance simply by continuous chemical complication of prebiotic macromolecules and microsystems. The complication must be accompanied by the radical thermodynamic transformation (“jump”) of prebiotic microsystems that resulted in the acquired ability to extract free energy from the environment and export entropy. This transformation is called “the thermodynamic inversion” The inversion may occur by means of the efficient (intensified) response of the microsystems on the oscillations of physic-chemical parameters in hydrothermal environment. In this case the surplus available free energy within a microsystem, when combined with the informational modality, facilitates its conversion into a new microsystem—a living probiont. It is shown the schematic representation of an oscillating prebiotic microsystem that is transforming into a living probiont. A new kind of laboratory and computational experiments on prebiotic chemistry under oscillating conditions is offered to verify the inversion concept. View Full-Text
Keywords: origin of life; prebiotic system; living cell; oscillation; organic molecule; experiment; hydrothermal system origin of life; prebiotic system; living cell; oscillation; organic molecule; experiment; hydrothermal system
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Kompanichenko, V. Thermodynamic Jump from Prebiotic Microsystems to Primary Living Cells. Sci 2019, 1, 58.

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Reviewer 1

Sent on 01 Sep 2019 by Vladimir Levchenko | Approved with revisions
Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry of RAS, St.Petersburg, Russia

REVIEW on the article of Vladimir Kompanichenko

Thermodynamic Jump from Prebiotic Microsystems

to Primary Living Cells

 

An approach to the phenomenon of life from the point of view of a physicist was proposed in the famous classical work of Schrödinger [1] already more than half a century ago. Unfortunately, further development of the ideas of this work practically did not occur [2]. The article by V. Kompanichenko makes an attempt to consider the origin of life precisely from the standpoint of a physicist, and this is why it is interesting.

Schrödinger believed that any living system is different from nonliving in that, despite the constantly processes of decaying of living substance, it has the ability to support other processes that compensate for decay. As a result, the entropy of a living system does not increase. For this, the system uses external resources - energy sources or low-entropic substances. How this happens and what are the specific mechanisms that support these processes, Schrödinger does not discuss.

Vladimir Kompanichenko in his article makes, in my opinion, the correct emphasis on the energy aspects of the life process, but an attempt to use quite ambiguous term “information” in hisexplanations seems unsuccessful to me. From my point of view, the consideration of life processes should be conducted in the language of behavior instructions that a living system uses to obtain external resources and survival [2].

At the same time, in this article, as in other works of this author, a very interesting and reasonable idea is proposed that the emergence of life (ie the origin of processes compensating for the decay) is unlikely under relatively stable conditions, even when the environment is favorable for life. The author considers the hypothetical mechanism of the emergence of life precisely in a changing environment, when the conditions fluctuate significantly within a certain range. The likelihood that self-organization and appearance of processes compensating decay is possible in this case is, according to the author, nonzero. And in this he is apparently right. But what is the biological cell and how it works – this is not clear from the article.

Since Vladimir Kompanichenko is a geologist, he offers methods of verifying his hypothesis precisely from the standpoint of Earth sciences, although other approaches can be proposed (it suffices to recall, for example, the work of M. Eigen).

In general, despite a number of inaccuracies from the point of view of physicists and biologists, this article seems to me interesting and useful, both in the natural sciences aspects and in philosophical aspects, since it proposes a new approach to research on how life has arisen.

References

1. Schrodinger, E. What is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell; Lectures at the Trinity College: Dublin,

Ireland, 1944.

 

2. Levchenko V.F. Biosphere: stages of life (monograph in Russian). ISVOE, St.Petersburg, 2012, 264 pp. ISBN: 978-5-4386-0091-6

 

Doctor of Biological Sciences

Vladimir F. Levchenko

Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry RAS, St. Petersburg, Russia

 

Response to Reviewer 1

Sent on 11 Aug 2020 by Vladimir Kompanichenko

My short paper expresses an essence of the inversion approach to the origin of life. The expanded version of the approach was published in the book [1], where various aspects of the term “information” were discussed in detail (Chapters 2, 6, 7). Actually, earlier information was investigated in framework of the information theory, while entropy and free energy – in framework of thermodynamics. However, some basic works have substantiated the negative relation between informational entropy (that is a small part of the whole entropy of a system) and information [2]. Thus, a living organism can degrade as due to the loss of free energy as due to disorganization that is connected with informational entropy increase. The inversion concept proposes that life arises through the thermodynamic inversion in prebiotic microsystems; appearance of the instructions is one of major consequences of such transformation. Before the inversion, prevalence of the contribution of informational entropy over the contribution of information in non-living prebiotic microsystems does not allow functional (biologically organized) sequences appearing because of the fast disorganization. Informational entropy contributes into production of random sequences only. After the inversion, there appears surplus (above the entropy) information that allows build functional sequences in the transformed microsystems by means of the arising instructions. The reviewer is right that informational aspect of the origin of life is less clear than conversion of free energy. This aspect needs further clarification. [1] Kompanichenko V. Thermodynamic Inversion: Origin of Living Systems. Springer International Publishing, Cham (Switzerland), 2017 [2] Feistel R, Ebeling W. Physics of Self-organization and Evolution. Wiley, VCH, 2011

Reviewer 2

Sent on 10 Aug 2019 by Christos Georgiou | Approved with revisions
University of Patras

The present study provides a physicochemical framework to view life, in its elemental components, as a space-limited (e.g. capsular, for keeping its organics highly concentrated), and self-assembled, -corrected (thus, imperfect), and -multiplied water-based organic system with spatially localized energy, whose organic molecular components are catalytically ordered in structure (ordered organic structures act as deposits of highly ordered energy, thus having low entropy), and capacity for producing work. Life absorbs external and temporarily timely-ordered energy, either radiated from space sources (e.g. from a star being under increasing disorder and energetically depleted), or it is of geothermal (from an energy-decreasing magma, released from plate tectonics etc) and chemical (by absorbing reductive energy from e.g. inorganic hydrogen donors, etc) origin. The system of life tends to die when its organic components are transformed to a high disorder state (e.g. to carbon dioxide), and its spatially ordered energy becomes chaotic. That is, what breaks down when life is dwindling towards death is not the quantity but the orderly quality of its energy; from spatially-ordered becomes chaotic and dispersed in a disorderly ascending universe.

The author would elaborate in the text on these lines of biochemical ideas

Response to Reviewer 2

Sent on 11 Aug 2020 by Vladimir Kompanichenko

The reviewer suggests correlating some own ideas with the inversion concept of the origin of life. The ideas expressed in the review are wide and demand serious work. They cannot be adequately used in my short (4 pages) article. However, some aspects of living organisms existence mentioned in the review were discussed in my recent book [1]. I will take the reviewer’s opinion into consideration in my future work. [1] Kompanichenko V. Thermodynamic Inversion: Origin of Living Systems. Springer International Publishing, Cham (Switzerland), 2017

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