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Life, Volume 8, Issue 2 (June 2018)

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Open AccessReview Chemomimesis and Molecular Darwinism in Action: From Abiotic Generation of Nucleobases to Nucleosides and RNA
Received: 23 May 2018 / Revised: 14 June 2018 / Accepted: 19 June 2018 / Published: 20 June 2018
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Abstract
Molecular Darwinian evolution is an intrinsic property of reacting pools of molecules resulting in the adaptation of the system to changing conditions. It has no a priori aim. From the point of view of the origin of life, Darwinian selection behavior, when spontaneously
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Molecular Darwinian evolution is an intrinsic property of reacting pools of molecules resulting in the adaptation of the system to changing conditions. It has no a priori aim. From the point of view of the origin of life, Darwinian selection behavior, when spontaneously emerging in the ensembles of molecules composing prebiotic pools, initiates subsequent evolution of increasingly complex and innovative chemical information. On the conservation side, it is a posteriori observed that numerous biological processes are based on prebiotically promptly made compounds, as proposed by the concept of Chemomimesis. Molecular Darwinian evolution and Chemomimesis are principles acting in balanced cooperation in the frame of Systems Chemistry. The one-pot synthesis of nucleosides in radical chemistry conditions is possibly a telling example of the operation of these principles. Other indications of similar cases of molecular evolution can be found among biogenic processes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Integrity of the DNA and Cellular Ultrastructure of Cryptoendolithic Fungi in Space or Mars Conditions: A 1.5-Year Study at the International Space Station
Received: 26 April 2018 / Revised: 10 June 2018 / Accepted: 12 June 2018 / Published: 19 June 2018
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Abstract
The black fungi Cryomyces antarcticus and Cryomyces minteri are highly melanized and are resilient to cold, ultra-violet, ionizing radiation and other extreme conditions. These microorganisms were isolated from cryptoendolithic microbial communities in the McMurdo Dry Valleys (Antarctica) and studied in Low Earth Orbit
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The black fungi Cryomyces antarcticus and Cryomyces minteri are highly melanized and are resilient to cold, ultra-violet, ionizing radiation and other extreme conditions. These microorganisms were isolated from cryptoendolithic microbial communities in the McMurdo Dry Valleys (Antarctica) and studied in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), using the EXPOSE-E facility on the International Space Station (ISS). Previously, it was demonstrated that C. antarcticus and C. minteri survive the hostile conditions of space (vacuum, temperature fluctuations, and the full spectrum of extraterrestrial solar electromagnetic radiation), as well as Mars conditions that were simulated in space for a 1.5-year period. Here, we qualitatively and quantitatively characterize damage to DNA and cellular ultrastructure in desiccated cells of these two species, within the frame of the same experiment. The DNA and cells of C. antarcticus exhibited a higher resistance than those of C. minteri. This is presumably attributable to the thicker (melanized) cell wall of the former. Generally, DNA was readily detected (by PCR) regardless of exposure conditions or fungal species, but the C. minteri DNA had been more-extensively mutated. We discuss the implications for using DNA, when properly shielded, as a biosignature of recently extinct or extant life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fungi from Extreme Environments)
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Open AccessArticle Big Sound and Extreme Fungi—Xerophilic, Halotolerant Aspergilli and Penicillia with Low Optimal Temperature as Invaders of Historic Pipe Organs
Received: 27 April 2018 / Revised: 6 June 2018 / Accepted: 12 June 2018 / Published: 14 June 2018
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Abstract
Recent investigations have shown that xerophilic fungi may pose a biodeterioration risk by threatening objects of cultural heritage including many types of materials, including wood, paint layers, organic glues or leather and even metal. Historic—and also new built—pipe organs combine all those materials.
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Recent investigations have shown that xerophilic fungi may pose a biodeterioration risk by threatening objects of cultural heritage including many types of materials, including wood, paint layers, organic glues or leather and even metal. Historic—and also new built—pipe organs combine all those materials. In this study, halotolerant aspergilli and penicillia with low optimal temperatures were shown to be the most frequent invaders of pipe organs. The fungi form white mycelia on the organic components of the organs with a clear preference for the bolus paint of the wooden pipes, the leather-made hinges of the stop actions and all parts fixed by organic glue. Physiological tests showed that the strains isolated from the instruments all show a halotolerant behavior, although none was halophilic. The optimum growth temperature is below 20 °C, thus the fungi are perfectly adapted to the cool and relatively dry conditions in the churches and organs respectively. The de-novo genome sequences analyses of the strains are currently ongoing and will reveal the genomic basis for the halotolerant behavior of the fungi. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fungi from Extreme Environments)
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Open AccessArticle Homochirality through Photon-Induced Denaturing of RNA/DNA at the Origin of Life
Received: 27 April 2018 / Revised: 22 May 2018 / Accepted: 22 May 2018 / Published: 6 June 2018
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Abstract
Since a racemic mixture of chiral nucleotides frustrates the enzymeless extension of RNA and DNA, the origin of homochirality must be intimately connected with the origin of life. Homochirality theories have elected to presume abiotic mechanisms for prebiotic enantiomer enrichment and post amplification,
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Since a racemic mixture of chiral nucleotides frustrates the enzymeless extension of RNA and DNA, the origin of homochirality must be intimately connected with the origin of life. Homochirality theories have elected to presume abiotic mechanisms for prebiotic enantiomer enrichment and post amplification, but none, so far, has been generally accepted. Here I present a novel hypothesis for the procurement of homochirality from an asymmetry in right- over left-circularly polarized photon-induced denaturing of RNA and DNA at the Archean ocean surface as temperatures descended below that of RNA and DNA melting. This asymmetry is attributed to the small excess of right-handed circularly polarized submarine light during the afternoon, when surface water temperatures were highest and thus most conducive to photon-induced denaturing, and to a negative circular dichroism band extending from 230 to 270 nm for small oligos of RNA and DNA. Because D-nucleic acids have greater affinity for L-tryptophan due to stereochemistry, and because D-RNA/DNA+L-tryptophan complexes have an increased negative circular dichroism band between 230 and 270 nm, the homochirality of tryptophan can also be explained by this hypothesis. A numerical model is presented, demonstrating the efficacy of such a mechanism in procuring homochirality of RNA or DNA from an original racemic solution in as little as 270 Archean years. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Origin of Chirality in Life (Chiral Symmetry Breaking))
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Open AccessTechnical Note phylotaR: An Automated Pipeline for Retrieving Orthologous DNA Sequences from GenBank in R
Received: 28 March 2018 / Revised: 26 May 2018 / Accepted: 1 June 2018 / Published: 5 June 2018
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Abstract
The exceptional increase in molecular DNA sequence data in open repositories is mirrored by an ever-growing interest among evolutionary biologists to harvest and use those data for phylogenetic inference. Many quality issues, however, are known and the sheer amount and complexity of data
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The exceptional increase in molecular DNA sequence data in open repositories is mirrored by an ever-growing interest among evolutionary biologists to harvest and use those data for phylogenetic inference. Many quality issues, however, are known and the sheer amount and complexity of data available can pose considerable barriers to their usefulness. A key issue in this domain is the high frequency of sequence mislabeling encountered when searching for suitable sequences for phylogenetic analysis. These issues include, among others, the incorrect identification of sequenced species, non-standardized and ambiguous sequence annotation, and the inadvertent addition of paralogous sequences by users. Taken together, these issues likely add considerable noise, error or bias to phylogenetic inference, a risk that is likely to increase with the size of phylogenies or the molecular datasets used to generate them. Here we present a software package, phylotaR that bypasses the above issues by using instead an alignment search tool to identify orthologous sequences. Our package builds on the framework of its predecessor, PhyLoTa, by providing a modular pipeline for identifying overlapping sequence clusters using up-to-date GenBank data and providing new features, improvements and tools. We demonstrate and test our pipeline’s effectiveness by presenting trees generated from phylotaR clusters for two large taxonomic clades: Palms and primates. Given the versatility of this package, we hope that it will become a standard tool for any research aiming to use GenBank data for phylogenetic analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Open Science Phyloinformatics: Resources, Methods, and Analyses)
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Open AccessArticle Sun Exposure Shapes Functional Grouping of Fungi in Cryptoendolithic Antarctic Communities
Received: 29 April 2018 / Revised: 30 May 2018 / Accepted: 31 May 2018 / Published: 2 June 2018
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Abstract
Antarctic cryptoendolithic microbial communities dominate ice-free areas of continental Antarctica, among the harshest environments on Earth. The endolithic lifestyle is a remarkable adaptation to the exceptional environmental extremes of this area, which is considered the closest terrestrial example to conditions on Mars. Recent
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Antarctic cryptoendolithic microbial communities dominate ice-free areas of continental Antarctica, among the harshest environments on Earth. The endolithic lifestyle is a remarkable adaptation to the exceptional environmental extremes of this area, which is considered the closest terrestrial example to conditions on Mars. Recent efforts have attempted to elucidate composition of these extremely adapted communities, but the functionality of these microbes have remained unexplored. We have tested for interactions between measured environmental characteristics, fungal community membership, and inferred functional classification of the fungi present and found altitude and sun exposure were primary factors. Sandstone rocks were collected in Victoria Land, Antarctica along an altitudinal gradient from 834 to 3100 m a.s.l.; differently sun-exposed rocks were selected to test the influence of this parameter on endolithic settlement. Metabarcoding targeting the fungal internal transcribed spacer region 1 (ITS1) was used to catalogue the species found in these communities. Functional profile of guilds found in the samples was associated to species using FUNGuild and variation in functional groups compared across sunlight exposure and altitude. Results revealed clear dominance of lichenized and stress-tolerant fungi in endolithic communities. The main variations in composition and abundance of functional groups among sites correlated to sun exposure, but not to altitude. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fungi from Extreme Environments)
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Open AccessReview Data-Driven Astrochemistry: One Step Further within the Origin of Life Puzzle
Received: 1 April 2018 / Revised: 20 May 2018 / Accepted: 22 May 2018 / Published: 1 June 2018
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Abstract
Astrochemistry, meteoritics and chemical analytics represent a manifold scientific field, including various disciplines. In this review, clarifications on astrochemistry, comet chemistry, laboratory astrophysics and meteoritic research with respect to organic and metalorganic chemistry will be given. The seemingly large number of observed astrochemical
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Astrochemistry, meteoritics and chemical analytics represent a manifold scientific field, including various disciplines. In this review, clarifications on astrochemistry, comet chemistry, laboratory astrophysics and meteoritic research with respect to organic and metalorganic chemistry will be given. The seemingly large number of observed astrochemical molecules necessarily requires explanations on molecular complexity and chemical evolution, which will be discussed. Special emphasis should be placed on data-driven analytical methods including ultrahigh-resolving instruments and their interplay with quantum chemical computations. These methods enable remarkable insights into the complex chemical spaces that exist in meteorites and maximize the level of information on the huge astrochemical molecular diversity. In addition, they allow one to study even yet undescribed chemistry as the one involving organomagnesium compounds in meteorites. Both targeted and non-targeted analytical strategies will be explained and may touch upon epistemological problems. In addition, implications of (metal)organic matter toward prebiotic chemistry leading to the emergence of life will be discussed. The precise description of astrochemical organic and metalorganic matter as seeds for life and their interactions within various astrophysical environments may appear essential to further study questions regarding the emergence of life on a most fundamental level that is within the molecular world and its self-organization properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Meteorites and the Origin of Life)
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Open AccessArticle Testing the Domino Theory of Gene Loss in Buchnera aphidicola: The Relevance of Epistatic Interactions
Received: 6 May 2018 / Revised: 24 May 2018 / Accepted: 25 May 2018 / Published: 29 May 2018
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Abstract
The domino theory of gene loss states that when some particular gene loses its function and cripples a cellular function, selection will relax in all functionally related genes, which may allow for the non-functionalization and loss of these genes. Here we study the
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The domino theory of gene loss states that when some particular gene loses its function and cripples a cellular function, selection will relax in all functionally related genes, which may allow for the non-functionalization and loss of these genes. Here we study the role of epistasis in determining the pattern of gene losses in a set of genes participating in cell envelope biogenesis in the endosymbiotic bacteria Buchnera aphidicola. We provide statistical evidence indicating pairs of genes in B. aphidicola showing correlated gene loss tend to have orthologs in Escherichia coli known to have alleviating epistasis. In contrast, pairs of genes in B. aphidicola not showing correlated gene loss tend to have orthologs in E. coli known to have aggravating epistasis. These results suggest that during the process of genome reduction in B. aphidicola by gene loss, positive or alleviating epistasis facilitates correlated gene losses while negative or aggravating epistasis impairs correlated gene losses. We interpret this as evidence that the reduced proteome of B. aphidicola contains less pathway redundancy and more compensatory interactions, mimicking the situation of E. coli when grown under environmental constrains. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolution of Mutualistic Symbiosis)
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Open AccessArticle Molecular Evolution in a Peptide-Vesicle System
Received: 30 April 2018 / Revised: 17 May 2018 / Accepted: 22 May 2018 / Published: 24 May 2018
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Abstract
Based on a new model of a possible origin of life, we propose an efficient and stable system undergoing structural reproduction, self-optimization, and molecular evolution. This system is being formed under realistic conditions by the interaction of two cyclic processes, one of which
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Based on a new model of a possible origin of life, we propose an efficient and stable system undergoing structural reproduction, self-optimization, and molecular evolution. This system is being formed under realistic conditions by the interaction of two cyclic processes, one of which offers vesicles as the structural environment, with the other supplying peptides from a variety of amino acids as versatile building blocks. We demonstrate that structures growing in a combination of both cycles have the potential to support their own existence, to undergo chemical and structural evolution, and to develop unpredicted functional properties. The key mechanism is the mutual stabilization of the peptides by the vesicles and of the vesicles by the peptides together with a constant production and selection of both. The development of the proposed system over time would not only represent one of the principles of life, but could also be a model for the formation of self-evolving structures ultimately leading to the first living cell. The experiment yields clear evidence for a vesicle-induced accumulation of membrane-interacting peptide which could be identified by liquid chromatography combined with high-resolution mass spectroscopy. We found that the selected peptide has an immediate effect on the vesicles, leading to (i) reduced vesicle size, (ii) increased vesicle membrane permeability, and (iii) improved thermal vesicle stability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Hypotheses in the Life Sciences)
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Open AccessReview Fungal Diversity in Lichens: From Extremotolerance to Interactions with Algae
Received: 11 April 2018 / Revised: 16 May 2018 / Accepted: 21 May 2018 / Published: 22 May 2018
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Abstract
Lichen symbioses develop long-living thallus structures even in the harshest environments on Earth. These structures are also habitats for many other microscopic organisms, including other fungi, which vary in their specificity and interaction with the whole symbiotic system. This contribution reviews the recent
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Lichen symbioses develop long-living thallus structures even in the harshest environments on Earth. These structures are also habitats for many other microscopic organisms, including other fungi, which vary in their specificity and interaction with the whole symbiotic system. This contribution reviews the recent progress regarding the understanding of the lichen-inhabiting fungi that are achieved by multiphasic approaches (culturing, microscopy, and sequencing). The lichen mycobiome comprises a more or less specific pool of species that can develop symptoms on their hosts, a generalist environmental pool, and a pool of transient species. Typically, the fungal classes Dothideomycetes, Eurotiomycetes, Leotiomycetes, Sordariomycetes, and Tremellomycetes predominate the associated fungal communities. While symptomatic lichenicolous fungi belong to lichen-forming lineages, many of the other fungi that are found have close relatives that are known from different ecological niches, including both plant and animal pathogens, and rock colonizers. A significant fraction of yet unnamed melanized (‘black’) fungi belong to the classes Chaethothyriomycetes and Dothideomycetes. These lineages tolerate the stressful conditions and harsh environments that affect their hosts, and therefore are interpreted as extremotolerant fungi. Some of these taxa can also form lichen-like associations with the algae of the lichen system when they are enforced to symbiosis by co-culturing assays. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fungi from Extreme Environments)
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Open AccessReview Insights into Abiotically-Generated Amino Acid Enantiomeric Excesses Found in Meteorites
Received: 27 April 2018 / Revised: 9 May 2018 / Accepted: 10 May 2018 / Published: 12 May 2018
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Abstract
Biology exhibits homochirality, in that only one of two possible molecular configurations (called enantiomers) is used in both proteins and nucleic acids. The origin of this phenomenon is currently unknown, as nearly all known abiotic mechanisms for generating these compounds result in equal
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Biology exhibits homochirality, in that only one of two possible molecular configurations (called enantiomers) is used in both proteins and nucleic acids. The origin of this phenomenon is currently unknown, as nearly all known abiotic mechanisms for generating these compounds result in equal (racemic) mixtures of both enantiomers. However, analyses of primitive meteorites have revealed that a number of amino acids of extraterrestrial origin are present in enantiomeric excess, suggesting that there was an abiotic route to synthesize amino acids in a non-racemic manner. Here we review the amino acid contents of a range of meteorites, describe mechanisms for amino acid formation and their potential to produce amino acid enantiomeric excesses, and identify processes that could have amplified enantiomeric excesses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Meteorites and the Origin of Life)
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Open AccessArticle Caveats to Exogenous Organic Delivery from Ablation, Dilution, and Thermal Degradation
Received: 30 March 2018 / Revised: 8 May 2018 / Accepted: 10 May 2018 / Published: 12 May 2018
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Abstract
A hypothesis in prebiotic chemistry argues that organics were delivered to the early Earth in abundance by meteoritic sources. This study tests that hypothesis by measuring how the transfer of organic matter to the surface of Earth is affected by energy-dissipation processes such
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A hypothesis in prebiotic chemistry argues that organics were delivered to the early Earth in abundance by meteoritic sources. This study tests that hypothesis by measuring how the transfer of organic matter to the surface of Earth is affected by energy-dissipation processes such as ablation and airbursts. Exogenous delivery has been relied upon as a source of primordial material, but it must stand to reason that other avenues (i.e., hydrothermal vents, electric discharge) played a bigger role in the formation of life as we know it on Earth if exogenous material was unable to deliver significant quantities of organics. For this study, we look at various properties of meteors such as initial velocity and mass of the object, and atmospheric composition to see how meteors with different initial velocities and masses ablate. We find that large meteors do not slow down fast enough and thus impact the surface, vaporizing their components; fast meteors with low masses are vaporized during entry; and meteors with low velocities and high initial masses reach the surface. For those objects that survive to reach the surface, about 60 to >99% of the mass is lost by ablation. Large meteors that fragment are also shown to spread out over increasingly larger areas with increasing mass, and small meteors (~1 mm) are subjected to intense thermal heating, potentially degrading intrinsic organics. These findings are generally true across most atmospheric compositions. These findings provide several caveats to extraterrestrial delivery models that—while a viable point source of organics—likely did not supply as much prebiotic material as an effective endogenous production route. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Meteorites and the Origin of Life)
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Open AccessArticle Comet Pond II: Synergistic Intersection of Concentrated Extraterrestrial Materials and Planetary Environments to Form Procreative Darwinian Ponds
Received: 15 March 2018 / Revised: 24 April 2018 / Accepted: 2 May 2018 / Published: 11 May 2018
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Abstract
In the “comet pond” model, a rare combination of circumstances enables the entry and landing of pristine organic material onto a planetary surface with the creation of a pond by a soft impact and melting of entrained ices. Formation of the constituents of
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In the “comet pond” model, a rare combination of circumstances enables the entry and landing of pristine organic material onto a planetary surface with the creation of a pond by a soft impact and melting of entrained ices. Formation of the constituents of the comet in the cold interstellar medium and our circumstellar disk results in multiple constituents at disequilibrium which undergo rapid chemical reactions in the warmer, liquid environment. The planetary surface also provides minerals and atmospheric gases which chemically interact with the pond’s organic- and trace-element-rich constituents. Pond physical morphology and the heterogeneities imposed by gravitational forces (bottom sludge; surface scum) and weather result in a highly heterogeneous variety of macro- and microenvironments. Wet/dry, freeze/thaw, and natural chromatography processes further promote certain reaction sequences. Evaporation concentrates organics less volatile than water. Freezing concentrates all soluble organics into a residual liquid phase, including CH3OH, HCN, etc. The pond’s evolutionary processes culminate in the creation of a Macrobiont with the metabolically equivalent capabilities of energy transduction and replication of RNA (or its progenitor informational macromolecule), from which smaller organisms can emerge. Planet-wide dispersal of microorganisms is achieved through wind transport, groundwater, and/or spillover from the pond into surface hydrologic networks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Meteorites and the Origin of Life)
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Open AccessArticle Amphiphilic Compounds Assemble into Membranous Vesicles in Hydrothermal Hot Spring Water but Not in Seawater
Received: 12 March 2018 / Revised: 28 April 2018 / Accepted: 2 May 2018 / Published: 10 May 2018
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Abstract
There is a general assumption that amphiphilic compounds, such as fatty acids, readily form membranous vesicles when dispersed in aqueous phases. However, from earlier studies, it is known that vesicle stability depends strongly on pH, temperature, chain length, ionic concentration and the presence
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There is a general assumption that amphiphilic compounds, such as fatty acids, readily form membranous vesicles when dispersed in aqueous phases. However, from earlier studies, it is known that vesicle stability depends strongly on pH, temperature, chain length, ionic concentration and the presence or absence of divalent cations. To test how robust simple amphiphilic compounds are in terms of their ability to assemble into stable vesicles, we chose to study 10- and 12-carbon monocarboxylic acids and a mixture of the latter with its monoglyceride. These were dispersed in hydrothermal water samples drawn directly from hot springs in Yellowstone National Park at two pH ranges, and the results were compared with sea water under the same conditions. We found that the pure acids could form membranous vesicles in hydrothermal pool water, but that a mixture of dodecanoic acid and glycerol monododecanoate was less temperature-sensitive and assembled into relatively stable membranes at both acidic and alkaline pH ranges. Furthermore, the vesicles were able to encapsulate nucleic acids and pyranine, a fluorescent anionic dye. None of the amphiphiles that were tested formed stable vesicles in sea water because the high ionic concentrations disrupted membrane stability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hydrothermal Vents or Hydrothermal Fields: Challenging Paradigms)
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Open AccessReview Mineral Surface-Templated Self-Assembling Systems: Case Studies from Nanoscience and Surface Science towards Origins of Life Research
Received: 31 March 2018 / Revised: 26 April 2018 / Accepted: 3 May 2018 / Published: 8 May 2018
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Abstract
An increasing body of evidence relates the wide range of benefits mineral surfaces offer for the development of early living systems, including adsorption of small molecules from the aqueous phase, formation of monomeric subunits and their subsequent polymerization, and supramolecular assembly of biopolymers
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An increasing body of evidence relates the wide range of benefits mineral surfaces offer for the development of early living systems, including adsorption of small molecules from the aqueous phase, formation of monomeric subunits and their subsequent polymerization, and supramolecular assembly of biopolymers and other biomolecules. Each of these processes was likely a necessary stage in the emergence of life on Earth. Here, we compile evidence that templating and enhancement of prebiotically-relevant self-assembling systems by mineral surfaces offers a route to increased structural, functional, and/or chemical complexity. This increase in complexity could have been achieved by early living systems before the advent of evolvable systems and would not have required the generally energetically unfavorable formation of covalent bonds such as phosphodiester or peptide bonds. In this review we will focus on various case studies of prebiotically-relevant mineral-templated self-assembling systems, including supramolecular assemblies of peptides and nucleic acids, from nanoscience and surface science. These fields contain valuable information that is not yet fully being utilized by the origins of life and astrobiology research communities. Some of the self-assemblies that we present can promote the formation of new mineral surfaces, similar to biomineralization, which can then catalyze more essential prebiotic reactions; this could have resulted in a symbiotic feedback loop by which geology and primitive pre-living systems were closely linked to one another even before life’s origin. We hope that the ideas presented herein will seed some interesting discussions and new collaborations between nanoscience/surface science researchers and origins of life/astrobiology researchers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water–Rock Interactions and Life)
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Open AccessArticle Cystobasidium alpinum sp. nov. and Rhodosporidiobolus oreadorum sp. nov. from European Cold Environments and Arctic Region
Received: 6 April 2018 / Revised: 30 April 2018 / Accepted: 4 May 2018 / Published: 5 May 2018
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Abstract
Over 80% of the Earth’s environments are permanently or periodically exposed to temperatures below 5 °C. Cold habitats harbour a wide diversity of psychrophilic and psychrotolerant yeasts. During ecological studies of yeast communities carried out in cold ecosystem in the Italian Alps, Svalbard
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Over 80% of the Earth’s environments are permanently or periodically exposed to temperatures below 5 °C. Cold habitats harbour a wide diversity of psychrophilic and psychrotolerant yeasts. During ecological studies of yeast communities carried out in cold ecosystem in the Italian Alps, Svalbard (Norway, Arctic region), and Portugal, 23 yeast strains that could not be assigned to any known fungal taxa were isolated. In particular, two of them were first identified as Rhodotorula sp., showing the highest degree of D1/D2 sequence identity with Cystobasidum laryngis accounted to only 97% with the type strain (C. laryngis CBS 2221). The other 21 strains, exhibiting identical D1/D2 sequences, had low identity (97%) with Rhodosporidiobolus lusitaniae and Rhodosporidiobolus colostri. Similarly, ITS sequences of the type strains of the most closely related species (93–94%). In a 2-genes multilocus D1/D2 and ITS ML phylogenetic tree, the studied strains pooled in two well separated and supported groups. In order to classify the new 23 isolates based on phylogenetic evidences, we propose the description of two novel species Cystobasidium alpinum sp. nov. and Rhodosporidiobolus oreadorum sp. nov. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fungi from Extreme Environments)
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