What does Abiogenesis Stand for?

It called abiogénesis the generation of life from inert material. It is a process that involves the development of a living being starting from a simple organic compound.

A quick look at the etymology of this term shows us on the one hand the prefix a-, which in this case refers to the absence of something, or serves to negate a concept, more precisely bio, that is, of “life” ; in the last part of the word we have the concept genesis, which we can translate as «beginning or origin «. In summary, it is possible to deduce that abiogenesis speaks to us of two moments: one in which there is no life; another, in which it has arisen from inert elements.

Abiogenesis is studied by science to try to find an explanation for the creation of life on planet Earth. Experts believe that this process took place between 4.4 billion and 2.7 billion years ago, although there is no scientific certainty.

These two points on the timeline are far from whimsical: it was approximately 4.4 billion years ago that, according to scientific researchers, water vapor first found the right conditions for condensation; On the other hand, various evidences suggest that the most remote indications of life date back 2.7 billion years.

It is important to note that abiogenesis involves the scientific explanation of what religion mentions as divine or supernatural. In other words: science, with abiogenesis, seeks the natural principle that led to the emergence of life, while religion attributes creation to the action of one or more gods.

Already in Ancient Greece there were thinkers who, in a way, spoke of abiogenesis. With the advance of scientific development, indications of how this process could have developed were found through complex studies carried out on rocks, meteorites and fossils.

Broadly speaking, abiogenesis maintains that a natural process allowed, from abiotic molecules, the development of simple organic molecules. These molecules, in turn, derived into protobionts, species of protocells that allowed the emergence of prokaryotic cells.

To reach the point at which the reconstruction of the event or events that made life possible on our planet is possible, scientists must rely on different approaches, which are based on laboratory and field studies.

Chemical tests are carried out in the laboratory, and certain astrochemical processes (astrochemistry studies the composition of the diffuse material and the stars in interstellar space) and geochemical ones (geochemistry is the study of the dynamics and composition of terrestrial chemical elements) that generate the constituents of life, according to current notions of the conditions of the natural environment that the Earth presented so many billions of years ago.

Among the most relevant hypotheses of abiogenesis is the iron-sulfur world theory. It was stated by a German chemist named Günter Wächtershäuser between the years 1988 and 1992, and proposes that genetics was preceded by a primitive form of metabolism, if we understand the latter term as a cycle of reactions capable of producing energy that other processes can take advantage of. According to this theory, each metabolic cycle produced compounds of increasing complexity, and all this took place on the surface of some minerals.

It cannot be ignored that some theories hold that abiogenesis had its starting point beyond Earth. In this case, it is argued that meteorites that fell on our planet brought with them the first organic molecules.