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October 11 virtual meeting

Invited speakers

Martina Preiner
Max Plank Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology


Title: Finding transitions from geo- to biochemistry

Martina will discuss possible parallels between geo- and biochemistry and how her new research group is trying to connect the two. Organic cofactors play a crucial role in these endeavours. She will furthermore give some insight into how she had to leave science first to be able to settle in it.

Alex Blokhuis
University of Groningen


Title: Small-molecule autocatalysis drives compartment growth, competition and reproduction

Growth and division of compartments coupled with their sustained autocatalysis is a common element in conceptions of abiogenesis, but has thus far lacked an experimental demonstration. We provide an experimental example of such a system, using the formose reaction compartmentalized in aqueous droplets in an emulsion. Our system illustrates how physical-chemical processes give rise to properties (growth, division, variation, competition, notions of heredity) that combine to afford various selection mechanisms and allow us to reconceptualize how such mechanisms can emerge"

Our study spurred important methodological questions on how complex systems (e.g. formose) can be studied, what the open questions are, what fundamental theory for systems chemistry will look like and what it means for what experiments we do in origins and systems chemistry and how we interpret them. I will finish by discussing new results that start to address these questions.