Origins of Life

On Earth and in the Cosmos


  • Geoffrey Zubay, Columbia University, New York, New York, U.S.A.

Origins of Life on the Earth and in the Cosmos, Second Edition, suggests answers to the age-old questions of how life arose in the universe and how it might arise elsewhere. This thorough revision of a very successful text describes key events in the evolution of living systems, starting with the creation of an environment suitable for the origins of life. Whereas one may never be able to reconstruct the precise pathway that led to the origin of life on earth, one can certainly make some plausible reconstructions of it. Such discussions have greatly expanded our understanding of the principles of chemical evolution and how they compare and contrast with the principles of biological evolution. The text is strong on biochemistry and its recent applications to origins' research.
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College students (science and nonscience majors) taking courses on biochemistry, evolution, and the origin of life; potentially, precocious high-school students taking advanced biology or special topics courses; and educated lay readers with serious interests in evolution and the origin of life.


Book information

  • Published: January 2000
  • ISBN: 978-0-12-781910-5


"... as a textbook, the book contains a lot of helpful figures... many of the older researchers (and hopefully some younger students too) will surely enjoy having all this information collected in a book which will become a kind of faithful companion. Geoff's book has enough of the required qualities to become such a friend."

"Geoffrey Zubay's Origins of Life on the Earth and in the Cosmos is the most readable and even-handed general treatment of the problem of the origins of life since Miller and Orgel's 1974 monograph."
--GERALD F. JOYCE, Scripps Research Institute

Table of Contents

Origin of the Universe.Formation of the Elements.Beginnings of Chemistry.Element Abundances of the Planets.Geologic, Hydrologic, and Atmospheric Evolution of the Earth.Cells, Organelles, and Biomolecules.Metabolic Strategies and Pathway Design.Biochemical Catalysis.Storage, Replication, and Utilization of Biochemical Information.General Considerations Concerning the Origin of Life on the Earth.Biochemical Pathways Involving Carbohydrates.Prebiotic Pathways Involving Carbohydrates.Similarities Between the Biosynthesis of Nucleotides and the Prebiotic Synthesis of Nucleotides.RNA Metabolism and the Prebiotic Synthesis of RNA. Amino Acid Synthesis Now and Then.Chemistry of Translation.Early Developments in Polypeptide Synthesis.Lipid Metabolism and the Prebiotic Synthesis of Lipids.Properties of Membranes and Their Evolution.Possible Roles of Clays and Minerals in the Origin of Life.Evolution of Organisms.Evolution of the Main Energy-Producing Pathway for Aerobic Metabolism: The Tricarboxylic Acid Cycle.Evolution of Photosynthesis.Origin and Elaboration of the Genetic Code.