Two approaches to the study of the origin of life

R. Hengeveld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This paper compares two approaches that attempt to explain the origin of life, or biogenesis. The more established approach is one based on chemical principles, whereas a new, yet not widely known approach begins from a physical perspective. According to the first approach, life would have begun with - often organic - compounds. After having developed to a certain level of complexity and mutual dependence within a non-compartmentalised organic soup, they would have assembled into a functioning cell. In contrast, the second, physical type of approach has life developing within tiny compartments from the beginning. It emphasises the importance of redox reactions between inorganic elements and compounds found on two sides of a compartmental boundary. Without this boundary, ¿life¿ would not have begun, nor have been maintained; this boundary - and the complex cell membrane that evolved from it - forms the essence of life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-131
JournalActa Biotheoretica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • atmospheric oxygen
  • evolution
  • enzymes
  • redox
  • phosphorylation
  • photosynthesis
  • dehydrogenase
  • chloroplasts
  • metabolism
  • hypothesis


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