Irep Gözen: Did surfaces enable the origin of life?

Abstract: My soft matter research group investigates the autonomous transformation of phospholipid agglomerates into membrane compartments through a sequence of topological changes on solid interfaces. This process is initiated by contact and wetting of artificially created as well as natural surfaces by the lipids, and proceeds via a network of interconnected lipid nanotubes to produce nearly uniform lipid bilayer compartments. Under minimal assumptions it is conceivable that such process could have occurred on the early Earth, where the autonomous formation of simple membrane compartments is presumed to have enabled encapsulation of nucleotides and prebiotic chemistry precursors. According to the currently accepted “bulk hypothesis”, such compartments have spontaneously formed under moderate environmental conditions from lipids suspended in bulk aqueous medium. Only very recently, surfaces have emerged as potential supporting structures for the self-assembly of prebiotic compartments. In my talk, I will report on new evidence for the involvement of surfaces in protocell nucleation and development. The talk will highlight the implications of the new findings for our understanding of possible origin of life processes, and argue that materials properties-driven autonomous processes on solid interfaces might have greater role in the development of life than currently considered.

Irep Gözen is associate professor at the UiO Department of Chemistry and leads the Softlab Norway ( at the UiO Department of Medicine. 

This talk is part of the Mechanics Lunch Seminar series. Bring-your-own-lunch and lots of questions.

Published Oct. 4, 2021 11:13 AM - Last modified Oct. 7, 2021 5:16 PM