The Molecular Origins of Life

  • Type: Vorlesung (V)
  • Semester: WS 16/17
  • Place:

    Institut für Organische Chemie IOC KIT CS, Geb. 30.42

    Seminarraum 201 (2. Etage)

  • Time:

    Mi. 14:00-15:30

  • Start: 19.10.2016
  • Lecturer: Zbigniew Pianowski
  • SWS: 1
  • Lv-No.: 5169

Lecture dates: 19th Oct., 2nd Nov., 9th Nov, 16th Nov., 30th Nov., 7th Dec., 14th Dec. 2016

 No lectures on 26th Oct., 23rd Nov. 2016 !!!

Following topics will be discussed:

Definitions of life – e.g. self-replicating chemical systems that use external energy sources to stay out of the equilibrium;

The origin of atoms and simple molecules - how the Universe, stars, planets, and molecules building them were formed?

Minimal requirements for a habitable environment – under which conditions the known forms of life can exist? Hypothetical other chemistries that could form living systems elsewhere;

The primordial soup – what pool of biologically relevant molecules likely existed on the prebiotic Earth: the Miller-Urey experiment, the formose reaction, prebiotic syntheses of aminoacids, sugars, nucleic acids, nucleotides, and lipids, prebiotic polymerization;

The origin of life – self-replicating systems, metabolism-first vs. gene-first, the “RNA world”, the origins of homochirality;

Formation of protocells – enhancing RNA with polypeptides, establishment of the genetic code, DNA as the enhanced information storage, metabolic networks, membranes;

From molecules to cells – LUCA (Last Universal Common Ancestor), information storage and function – split on different molecules, origins of the genetic code, metabolic networks and lipid membranes;

The history of life on Earth – timeline for LUCA, beginning of photosynthesis and aerobic metabolism, Eukaryotes, multicellular life, extremophilic organisms, habitable worlds outside Earth – current status of knowledge, space exploration programs;


The lecture will be continued in the summer semester as:

The molecular origins of life II: Synthetic life.