Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 51–71 | Cite as

The Emergence and Evolution of Life in a “Fatty Acid World” Based on Quantum Mechanics

  • Arvydas Tamulis
  • Mantas Grigalavicius
Theoretical Modeling


Quantum mechanical based electron correlation interactions among molecules are the source of the weak hydrogen and Van der Waals bonds that are critical to the self-assembly of artificial fatty acid micelles. Life on Earth or elsewhere could have emerged in the form of self-reproducing photoactive fatty acid micelles, which gradually evolved into nucleotide-containing micelles due to the enhanced ability of nucleotide-coupled sensitizer molecules to absorb visible light. Comparison of the calculated absorption spectra of micelles with and without nucleotides confirmed this idea and supports the idea of the emergence and evolution of nucleotides in minimal cells of a so-called Fatty Acid World. Furthermore, the nucleotide-caused wavelength shift and broadening of the absorption pattern potentially gives these molecules an additional valuable role, other than a purely genetic one in the early stages of the development of life. From the information theory point of view, the nucleotide sequences in such micelles carry positional information providing better electron transport along the nucleotide-sensitizer chain and, in addition, providing complimentary copies of that information for the next generation. Nucleotide sequences, which in the first period of evolution of fatty acid molecules were useful just for better absorbance of the light in the longer wavelength region, later in the PNA or RNA World, took on the role of genetic information storage.


Self-reproducing fatty acid micelles Fatty acid world Photoexcited electron tunneling Quantum mechanical emergence of genetic material Protocells 

Supplementary material

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vilnius University Institute of Theoretical Physics and AstronomyVilniusLithuania

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