Special Issue "The Landscape of the Emergence of Life"

A special issue of Life (ISSN 2075-1729).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2017).

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Sohan Jheeta

NoR CEL, 1 Scott Hall Crescent, Leeds, LS7 3RB, UK
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +0044-1132628767
Interests: origin of life; RNA world; panspermia,; hydrothermal vent; horizontal gene transfer; tree of life; phylogenetics; extraterrestrial life; astrochemistry

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The 3rd NoR HGT and LUCA conference on the landscape of the emergence of life (http://www.nor-hgt-luca.com/2014con.html), organized by Dr. Sohan Jheeta, will be held at Open University, Milton Keynes, UK, 3–4 November, 2016.

Trying to unravel the processes and mechanisms involved in the origin of life is a monumental task. This is simply because preRNA chemistry cannot not be reliably ascertained as it is not preserved in the form of chemical fossils. However, RNA molecules are conserved and can be traced from the point when chains of RNA molecules were formed from nucleotides, to the emergence of the three domains of life, giving some insight into how life may have been formed. The essence of this meeting (http://www.nor-hgt-luca.com/) is to explore this period, which is known as the RNA world, when RNA organisms termed the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) ruled.

Speakers in the conference are cordially invited to contribute original research papers or reviews to this Special Issue of Life.

Dr. Sohan Jheeta
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 1000 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.

Keywords

  • horizontal gene transfer
  • last universal common ancestor
  • phylogenetic tree of life
  • LUCA
  • viruses
  • transduction
  • RNA world hypothesis
  • genetic first hypothesis
  • vesicle first hypothesis
  • metabolism first hypothesis

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
The Landscape of the Emergence of Life
Received: 24 April 2016 / Revised: 6 May 2016 / Accepted: 6 May 2016 / Published: 16 May 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (165 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Is it unrealistic to presuppose that all of the steps that could lead to the formation of life could occur in one setting?[...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Landscape of the Emergence of Life)

Research

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Open AccessArticle
Better than Membranes at the Origin of Life?
Received: 28 March 2017 / Revised: 16 June 2017 / Accepted: 17 June 2017 / Published: 20 June 2017
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (2541 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Organelles without membranes are found in all types of cells and typically contain RNA and protein. RNA and protein are the constituents of ribosomes, one of the most ancient cellular structures. It is reasonable to propose that organelles without membranes preceded protocells and [...] Read more.
Organelles without membranes are found in all types of cells and typically contain RNA and protein. RNA and protein are the constituents of ribosomes, one of the most ancient cellular structures. It is reasonable to propose that organelles without membranes preceded protocells and other membrane-bound structures at the origins of life. Such membraneless organelles would be well sheltered in the spaces between mica sheets, which have many advantages as a site for the origins of life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Landscape of the Emergence of Life)
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Open AccessArticle
Peptidyl Transferase Center and the Emergence of the Translation System
Received: 14 March 2017 / Revised: 5 April 2017 / Accepted: 17 April 2017 / Published: 25 April 2017
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2681 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
In this work, the three-dimensional (3D) structure of the ancestral Peptidyl Transferase Center (PTC) built by concatamers of ancestral sequences of tRNAs was reconstructed, and its possible interactions with tRNAs molecules were analyzed. The 3D structure of the ancestral PTC was also compared [...] Read more.
In this work, the three-dimensional (3D) structure of the ancestral Peptidyl Transferase Center (PTC) built by concatamers of ancestral sequences of tRNAs was reconstructed, and its possible interactions with tRNAs molecules were analyzed. The 3D structure of the ancestral PTC was also compared with the current PTC of T. thermophilus. Docking experiments between the ancestral PTC and tRNAs suggest that in the origin of the translation system, the PTC functioned as an adhesion center for tRNA molecules. The approximation of tRNAs charged with amino acids to the PTC permitted peptide synthesis without the need of a genetic code. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Landscape of the Emergence of Life)
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Open AccessArticle
Evo-SETI: A Mathematical Tool for Cladistics, Evolution, and SETI
Received: 21 January 2017 / Revised: 9 March 2017 / Accepted: 21 March 2017 / Published: 6 April 2017
PDF Full-text (1960 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The discovery of new exoplanets makes us wonder where each new exoplanet stands along its way to develop life as we know it on Earth. Our Evo-SETI Theory is a mathematical way to face this problem. We describe cladistics and evolution by virtue [...] Read more.
The discovery of new exoplanets makes us wonder where each new exoplanet stands along its way to develop life as we know it on Earth. Our Evo-SETI Theory is a mathematical way to face this problem. We describe cladistics and evolution by virtue of a few statistical equations based on lognormal probability density functions (pdf) in the time. We call b-lognormal a lognormal pdf starting at instant b (birth). Then, the lifetime of any living being becomes a suitable b-lognormal in the time. Next, our “Peak-Locus Theorem” translates cladistics: each species created by evolution is a b-lognormal whose peak lies on the exponentially growing number of living species. This exponential is the mean value of a stochastic process called “Geometric Brownian Motion” (GBM). Past mass extinctions were all-lows of this GBM. In addition, the Shannon Entropy (with a reversed sign) of each b-lognormal is the measure of how evolved that species is, and we call it EvoEntropy. The “molecular clock” is re-interpreted as the EvoEntropy straight line in the time whenever the mean value is exactly the GBM exponential. We were also able to extend the Peak-Locus Theorem to any mean value other than the exponential. For example, we derive in this paper for the first time the EvoEntropy corresponding to the Markov-Korotayev (2007) “cubic” evolution: a curve of logarithmic increase. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Landscape of the Emergence of Life)
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Open AccessArticle
Thermal Condensation of Glycine and Alanine on Metal Ferrite Surface: Primitive Peptide Bond Formation Scenario
Received: 23 November 2016 / Revised: 13 March 2017 / Accepted: 24 March 2017 / Published: 27 March 2017
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (8716 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The amino acid condensation reaction on a heterogeneous mineral surface has been regarded as one of the important pathways for peptide bond formation. Keeping this in view, we have studied the oligomerization of the simple amino acids, glycine and alanine, on nickel ferrite [...] Read more.
The amino acid condensation reaction on a heterogeneous mineral surface has been regarded as one of the important pathways for peptide bond formation. Keeping this in view, we have studied the oligomerization of the simple amino acids, glycine and alanine, on nickel ferrite (NiFe2O4), cobalt ferrite (CoFe2O4), copper ferrite (CuFe2O4), zinc ferrite (ZnFe2O4), and manganese ferrite (MnFe2O4) nanoparticles surfaces, in the temperature range from 50–120 °C for 1–35 days, without applying any wetting/drying cycles. Among the metal ferrites tested for their catalytic activity, NiFe2O4 produced the highest yield of products by oligomerizing glycine to the trimer level and alanine to the dimer level, whereas MnFe2O4 was the least efficient catalyst, producing the lowest yield of products, as well as shorter oligomers of amino acids under the same set of experimental conditions. It produced primarily diketopiperazine (Ala) with a trace amount of alanine dimer from alanine condensation, while glycine was oligomerized to the dimer level. The trend in product formation is in accordance with the surface area of the minerals used. A temperature as low as 50 °C can even favor peptide bond formation in the present study, which is important in the sense that the condensation process is highly feasible without any sort of localized heat that may originate from volcanoes or hydrothermal vents. However, at a high temperature of 120 °C, anhydrides of glycine and alanine formation are favored, while the optimum temperature for the highest yield of product formation was found to be 90 °C. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Landscape of the Emergence of Life)
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Other

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Open AccessFeature PaperConference Report
The Landscape of the Emergence of Life
Received: 9 May 2017 / Revised: 11 June 2017 / Accepted: 12 June 2017 / Published: 16 June 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (236 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper reports on the various nuances of the origins of life on Earth and highlights the latest findings in that arena as reported at the Network of Researchers on Horizontal Gene Transfer and the Last Universal Common Ancestor (NoR HGT and LUCA) [...] Read more.
This paper reports on the various nuances of the origins of life on Earth and highlights the latest findings in that arena as reported at the Network of Researchers on Horizontal Gene Transfer and the Last Universal Common Ancestor (NoR HGT and LUCA) which was held from the 3–4th November 2016 at the Open University, UK. Although the answers to the question of the origin of life on Earth will not be fathomable anytime soon, a wide variety of subject matter was able to be covered, ranging from examining what constitutes a LUCA, looking at viral connections and “from RNA to DNA”, i.e., could DNA have been formed simultaneously with RNA, rather than RNA first and then describing the emergence of DNA from RNA. Also discussed are proteins and the origins of genomes as well as various ideas that purport to explain the origin of life here on Earth and potentially further afield elsewhere on other planets. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Landscape of the Emergence of Life)
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