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Keywords:

  • Bacteria;
  • Evolution;
  • Life;
  • Membranes;
  • Vesicles

Abstract

A location for the origin of life on Earth could have been an oil/water interface in the warm, subsurface environment of the Earth. The physico-chemical conditions of the subsurface would include elevated, but eventually cooling temperatures, anaerobic conditions, and protection from intense surface radiation. This type of subsurface oil/water environment may have been ideal for the assembly of the first simple membrane(s), where no enzyme catalysis was needed. Once a stable, simple, continuous closed membrane was formed, one central component of the first cell(s) would have been present; a semi-permeable open system that allowed the passage of both matter and energy in and out of the cell. Such an open system could also acquire novel functions, whereas a closed system would be unable to evolve.