The Molecular Origins of Life I

  • Type: Vorlesung (V)
  • Semester: SS 2020
  • Time:

    Tue 15:45-17:15, Thu 15:45-17:15

  • Start: 21.04.2020
  • Lecturer: Zbigniew Pianowski
    Prof. Dr. Joachim Podlech
  • SWS: 1 SWS
  • Lv-No.: 5184

Notes: Tuesdays and Thursdays 15:45-17:15, lecture online

First lecture: 21. Apr. 2020, 7 lecture units, the lecture slides will be available for download shortly before the respective lecture.


To join the lecture as a Zoom meeting, please click on the link below:
In case if we encountered connection problems, I also established an alternative transmission channel with a freeware BigBlueButton, which you can eventually access under the following link:


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;