Origin of Life

Theories and evidence for chemical biopoieses

Photosynthesis and the origin of life.

Entrez PubMed: "The origin and evolution of photosynthesis is considered to be the key to the origin of life. This eliminates the need for a soup as the synthesis of the bioorganics are to come from the fixation of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. No soup then no RNA world or Protein world. Cyanobacteria have been formed by the horizontal transfer of green sulfur bacterial photoreaction center genes by means of a plasmid into a purple photosynthetic bacterium. The fixation of carbon dioxide is considered to have evolved from a reductive dicarboxylic acid cycle (Chloroflexus) which was then followed by a reductive tricarboxylic acid cycle (Chlorobium) and finally by the reductive pentose phosphate cycle (Calvin cycle). The origin of life is considered to have occurred in a hot spring on the outgassing early earth. The first organisms were self-replicating iron-rich clays which fixed carbon dioxide into oxalic and other dicarboxylic acids. This system of replicating clays and their metabolic phenotype then evolved into the sulfide rich region of the hotspring acquiring the ability to fix nitrogen. Finally phosphate was incorporated into the evolving system which allowed the synthesis of nucleotides and phospholipids. If biosynthesis recapitulates biopoesis, then the synthesis of amino acids preceded the synthesis of the purine and pyrimidine bases. Furthermore the polymerization of the amino acid thioesters into polypeptides preceded the directed polymerization of amino acid esters by polynucleotides. Thus the origin and evolution of the genetic code is a late development and records the takeover of the clay by RNA."
Hartman H. Photosynthesis and the origin of life. Orig Life Evol Biosph. 1998 Oct;28(4-6):515-21.

A model for the origin of photosynthesis--III. The ultraviolet photochemistry of uroporphyrinogen. : "The photochemical ramifications of the high ultraviolet flux on the primordial earth prior to the formation of the ozone layer have been considered in a study of the ultraviolet photochemistry of uroporphyrinogen (urohexahydroporphyrin), a colorless compound which absorbs strongly at wavelengths less than 220 nanometers. Urohexahydroporphyrin was investigated since it is the first macrocycle formed on the biosynthetic pathway of chlorophyll and can be used to test the hypothesis that the biosynthetic pathway to chlorophyll recapitulates the evolutionary history of photosynthesis. When urohexahydroporphyrin is illuminated in aqueous anaerobic solution, hydrogen gas is produced. More hydrogen gas is produced in the presence of a colloidal platinum catalyst. The products of the photooxidation of urohexahydroporphyrin are urotetrahydroporphyrin (uroporphomethene) and uroporphyrin. This research shows how the oxidation of uroporphyrinogen to uroporphyrin, the first biogenetic porphyrin, could have occurred anaerobically and abiotically on the primordial earth."
Mercer-Smith JA, Raudino A, Mauzerall DC. A model for the origin of photosynthesis--III. The ultraviolet photochemistry of uroporphyrinogen. Photochem Photobiol. 1985;42(3):239-44.

Evolution of Photosynthesis' (1970), re-examined thirty years later. : "I have re-examined my 1970 article 'Evolution of Photosynthesis' (Olson JM, Science 168: 438-446) to see whether any of my original proposals still survive. My original conviction that the evolution of photosynthesis was intimately connected with the origin of life has been replaced with the realization that photosynthesis may have been invented by the Bacteria after their divergence from the Archea. The common ancestor of all extant photosynthetic bacteria and cyanobacteria probably contained bacteriochlorophyll a, rather than chlorophyll a as originally proposed, and may have carried out CO(2) fixation instead of photoassimilation. The first electron donors were probably reduced sulfur compounds and later ferrous iron. The common ancestor of all extant reaction centers was probably similar to the homodimeric RC1 of present-day green sulfur bacteria (Chlorobiaceae) and heliobacteria. In the common ancestor of proteobacteria and cyanobacteria, the gene for the primordial RC1 was apparently duplicated and one copy split into two genes, one for RC2 and the other for a chlorophyll protein similar to CP43 and CP47 in extant cyanobacteria and chloroplasts. Homodimeric RC1 and homodimeric RC2 functioned in series as in the Z-scheme to deliver electrons from Fe(OH)(+) to NADP(+), while RC1 and/or RC2 separately drove cyclic electron flow for the production of ATP. In the line of evolution leading to proteobacteria, RC1 and the chlorophyll protein were lost, but RC2 was retained and became heterodimeric. In the line leading to cyanobacteria, both RC1 and RC2 replaced bacteriochlorophyll a with chlorophyll a and became heterodimeric. Heterodimeric RC2 further coevolved with a Mn-containing complex to utilize water as the electron donor for CO(2) fixation. The chlorophyll-protein was also retained and evolved into CP43 and CP47. Heliobacteria are the nearest photosynthetic relatives of cyanobacteria. The branching order of photosynthetic genes appears to be (1) proteobacteria, (2) green bacteria (Chlorobiaceae plus Chloroflexaceae), and (3) heliobacteria plus cyanobacteria."Olson JM. Evolution of Photosynthesis' (1970), re-examined thirty years later. Photosynth Res. 2001;68(2):95-112.

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