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Thermodynamic and electrocatalitic aspects in free energy transfer models for the emergency of life on early earth

Grant number: 18/12491-2
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2019
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Chemistry - Physical-Chemistry
Principal researcher:Hamilton Brandão Varela de Albuquerque
Grantee:Thiago Altair Ferreira
Home Institution: Instituto de Química de São Carlos (IQSC). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Carlos , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:13/16930-7 - Electrocatalysis V: electrocatalytic processes of chemical and electrical energy interconversion, AP.TEM
Associated scholarship(s):20/13310-1 - Early carbon fixation pathway electrochemistry in simulated hydrothermal-vent interface for the emergence of life theory, BE.EP.DR


Despite its complexity, the living systems present, in numerous processes for their maintenance, certain kinetic and thermodynamic specificities. In these, the natural chemosmotic and electrochemical gradients as driving forces is coupled to various metabolic pathways by enzymatic systems. Considering this universal characteristic of known life, it was developed in the last 30 years one of the best-known theories about the origin of life on Earth, which now relates to alkaline hydrothermal vents. This theory stands that the structure for such a mechanism has an analogous in certain kinds of geological systems in the early earth, the alkaline hydrothermal vents, where the electrochemical driving force associates to inorganic catalysts, forming a suitable system to the coupling necessary for the emergence of life. However, it still requires experimental details about such coupling in the prebiotic scenario. We propose, therefore, the study of the electrocatalysis of CO reduction reaction with these catalysts, according to the transduction models based on the initial stage of the acetyl-CoA synthesis pathway. Minerals with morphological similarity to active sites of enzymes in the path mentioned will be used. Thus, we sought to evaluate the catalytic specificity of these minerals and the effects of the conditions on the overpotential required for the reduction. We suggest, in addition and according to the results of studies electrocatalysis, perform flow simulations and calculations discussed geological systems on the stability of the gradients formed in radioactive environments, considered promising to the origin of life. Thus, it is planned to emphasize the electrocatalytic processes of interconversion between chemical and electrical energies in the emergence of life, contributing with the thematic project to which this work associates. (AU)

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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
ALTAIR, THIAGO; BORGES, LUIZ G. F.; GALANTE, DOUGLAS; VARELA, HAMILTON. Experimental Approaches for Testing the Hypothesis of the Emergence of Life at Submarine Alkaline Vents. LIFE-BASEL, v. 11, n. 8, . (18/12491-2, 13/16930-7, 19/22183-6)

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