Special Issue "Prebiotic Processes: Systems and Theories"

A special issue of Biomimetics (ISSN 2313-7673).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Cristina Puzzarini
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Chemistry "Giacomo Ciamician", University of Bologna, Via Zamboni 33, 40126 Bologna, Italy
Prof. Dr. Vincenzo Barone
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Piazza dei Cavalieri, I-56126 Pisa, Italy
Interests: theoretical and computational chemistry; astrochemistry; reactivity and kinetics; solvent effects; density functional theory; computational spectroscopy
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Marco d'Ischia
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Chemical Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, Via Cintia 4, I-80126 Naples, Italy
Interests: structure, synthesis, physicochemical properties, and reactivity of melanins; polydopamine and related bioinspired functional materials for underwater surface functionalization and hybrid nanostructures for bioelectronics and biomedical applications; design, antioxidant properties, and reactivity of bioactive phenolic and quinone compounds; free radical oxidations and nature-inspired redox-active systems for biomedical and technological applications; chemistry and physicochemical properties of natural or bioinspired heterocyclic compounds; bioorganic chemistry of organic sulphur and selenium compounds; model reactions and transformation pathways of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and derivatives of astrochemical relevance
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Prebiotic processes underlying the origin of life in terrestrial and/or extraterrestrial environments remain one of the most fascinating and challenging enigmas to scientists. Solving this puzzle is in the hands of illuminated, open-minded and intuitive chemists working in concert with physicists, astronomists and biologists.

“The question of life’s primordial beginnings—one of those existential questions that humans have pondered since antiquity—belongs squarely in the domain of chemistry.” (Jogalekar, A. Why chemists should study the origin of life).

"Biogenesis, as a problem of science, is lastly going to be a problem of synthesis. The origin of life cannot be 'discovered', it has to be re-invented." (Eschenmoser, A. The search for the chemistry of life’s origin. Tetrahedron 2007, 63, 12821–12844.)

Prebiotic chemistry is part of the cosmic evolution, which is based on the progressive transition from simplicity to complexity. From the simplest atoms formed after the Big Bang to the complex organic molecules (COMs), which represent building blocks of life, prebiotic chemistry encompasses innumerable tales of exotic processes, unexpected findings and serendipitous discoveries. Paradigmatic of the simple-to-complex astrochemical transition are the generation of amino acids from inorganic species in the notorious Miller–Urey experiment and the origin of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which are putatively responsible for a family of infrared emission features in a wide variety of astrophysical environments. Pillars of prebiotic chemistry are the spark discharge aminonitrile synthesis, nucleobase synthesis by HCN oligomerization, and sugar synthesis by the formose reaction. Elucidation of these three processes has paved the way to modern astrobiology and prebiotic chemistry. However, despite rapid advancements, the field of prebiotic chemistry is still at its outset, and a number of big questions have still to be solved:

  1. How might chirality have been maintained in aqueous, racemizing environments?
  2. Is chirality a requirement for life or a result of it?
  3. What might have been the requirements for the first biopolymers?
  4. Did life originate in terrestrial or extraterrestrial environments?
  5. What are the most reliable experimental and theoretical models to reproduce the environments and conditions sustaining prebiotic processes?

Today, a new era of exciting discoveries is about to come and it is likely that very soon most of the above issues are definitively settled.

This Special Issue was conceived in the frame of the mission of the Italian Interuniversity Center STAR (Systems and Theories for Astrochemical Research) founded jointly by Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa), University of Bologna and University of Naples Federico II (http://star.sns.it/). It aims to collect original top-quality papers at the frontiers of astrochemistry that have a strong bearing on the elusive chemistry underlying the origin of life. It is expected that this new collection of contributions, comprising both critical reviews and original research reports, will eventually foster new links of cooperation and will promote further important advancements into this emerging and fascinating field of research.

Prof. Cristina Puzzarini
Prof. Vincenzo Barone
Prof. Dr. Marco d'Ischia
Guest Editors

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. Biomimetics 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 1400 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.


  • astrochemistry
  • prebiotic molecules
  • chemical reactivity
  • chemical evolution
  • origin of life

Published Papers

There is no accepted submissions to this special issue at this moment.
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