3 February 2010
Venue: Room G.23 (Biology Lecture Theatre), G.E. Fogg Building, Mile End
Seminar: 'From the Origin of Life to the Origin of Complexity'
Nick Lane, Provost's Venture Research Fellow, University College London (UCL)
The origin of life is often claimed to be improbable, but the discovery of alkaline hydrothermal vents in the deep oceans provides a compelling setting for compartmentalisation, catalysis, replication and biological energy, giving an almost seamless transition from geochemistry to biochemistry. This 'natural selection of the elements' gave rise to Darwinian natural selection. But for two billion years life remained simple. The selection pressures on bacteria keep them small and morphologically simple. It took an event far more unlikely than the origin of life to foment true complexity. I will argue that the peculiar nature of cell respiration gives a deep insight into both events – and into why complex life in the universe is likely to be rare.
Download: Flyer for this seminar [PDF]
'Research intelligence: In search of Chimerical Eve' (THE, 7 January 2010)
Professor John F Allen
Biological and Chemical Sciences