The origin of life from inanimate matter has been the focus of much research for decades, both experimentally and philosophically. Luisi takes the reader through the consecutive stages from prebiotic chemistry to synthetic biology, uniquely combining both approaches. This book presents a systematic course discussing the successive stages of self-organisation, emergence, self-replication, autopoiesis, synthetic compartments and construction of cellular models, in order to demonstrate the spontaneous increase in complexity from inanimate matter to the first cellular life forms. A chapter is dedicated to each of these steps, using a number of synthetic and biological examples. With end-of-chapter review questions to aid reader comprehension, this book will appeal to graduate students and academics researching the origin of life and related areas such as evolutionary biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, biophysics and natural sciences.
• Was the first book to offer a systematic course on the origins of life • Review questions at the end of each chapter • Added contributions from prominent scientists to give complementary/alternative views
Preface; 1. The conceptual framework of the research on the origin of life on Earth; 2. Approaches to the definitions of life; 3. Selection in prebiotic chemistry - why this … and not that?; 4. The bottle neck - macromolecular sequences; 5. Self-organization; 6. Emergence and emergent properties; 7. Self-replication and self-reproduction; 8. Autopoiesis - the logic of cellular life; 9. Compartments; 10. Reactivity and transformation of vesicles; 11. Approaches to the minimal cell; Outlook; Bibliography.
Review of the hardback: 'Charting the successful development of life is certainly a fascinating challenge and one which Luisi addresses head on in this book from both a scientific and philosophical standpoint. … This comprehensive volume will particularly suit those students and academics who wish to delve further into early natural history, either out of an innate curiosity or a more professional approach to unravel one of the true mysteries of nature.' Chemistry & Industry
Review of the hardback: 'This work is a fresh and exciting new look at a now long-established field. Because it is so fascinating to read, it is a work that I feel deserves to be in every library of science.' Chemistry World
Review of the hardback: '… the reviewer recommends this book for specialists in Earth and life sciences.' Zentralblatt für Geologie und Paläontologie