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What is Abiogenesis?

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  • Last Updated : 04 Dec, 2022
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According to the theory of abiogenesis, Earth’s first signs of life appeared more than 3.5 billion years ago. According to the theory of abiogenesis, the earliest life forms produced were extremely primitive before gradually becoming more sophisticated. Abiogenesis, the process by which life arises from the reproduction of other life, is likely to have come before biogenesis, which was rendered impossible once Earth’s atmosphere took on its current composition.

Although abiogenesis is frequently compared to the antiquated theory of spontaneous generation, the two concepts are very distinct. The latter held that complex life (such as a mouse or a maggot) spontaneously and continuously developed from nonliving elements. Abiogenesis has not been proven nor disproven, in contrast to the hypothetical process of spontaneous generation, which was disproven as early as the 17th century and firmly rejected in the 19th century.

What is Biogenesis?

Biogenesis is a crucial idea in biology and molecular genetics that proposes the creation of new living things from previously existing life. Read on as we examine this groundbreaking hypothesis that challenged long-held assumptions. The term “biogenesis” refers to any process by which a lifeform can give rise to other lifeforms and is based on the idea that life can only emerge from other life. Consider a chicken that lays eggs, which hatch into baby chickens.

History of the Abiogenesis Theory

From Aristotle till the nineteenth century, spontaneous generation was one of the traditional theories for the beginning of life. According to this hypothesis, life first appeared by accident, and “lower” animals were created by organic matter decomposition. In 17th-century writings like Thomas Browne’s Pseudodoxia Epidemica, this was contested. Robert Hooke produced the first illustrations of a microbe in 1665. In 1676, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek drew and wrote descriptions of bacteria and microbes, most likely protozoa. Van Leeuwenhoek disagreed with the spontaneous generation. By the 1680s, he had persuaded himself that the notion was false using tests like sealed and open meat incubation and a detailed examination of insect reproduction. Francesco Redi demonstrated in 1668 that when no maggots appeared in meat when flies were prevented from laying eggs idea of spontaneous generation had been disproved by the middle of the 19th century.

Conditions on Earth when Abiogenesis occurred

When enough of the Hadean’s molten crust had solidified during the Eoarchean, life on Earth continued for more than 3.5 Gya. Microfossils discovered in banded iron formation rocks at least 3.77 and potentially 4.28 Gya in the Nuvvuagittuq Greenstone Belt of Northern Quebec represent the earliest physical evidence of life to date. The microbes were present in hydrothermal vent precipitates shortly after the Hadean oceans were formed 4.4 Gya. The organisms supported the idea that abiogenesis began in a setting like that by resembling present hydrothermal vent bacteria.

Abiogenesis Theory

According to the abiogenesis theory, all life originated from inorganic molecules that undergo various recombinations as a result of energy input. These many forms combined to form a self-replicating molecule, which may have started building the fundamental building blocks of life, such as the cell, using the other molecules generated through abiogenesis.

In the same way that populations change over time during the evolution of animals, molecules change over time during the evolution of molecules. According to scientists, RNA molecules are thought to have been the first self-replicating molecules seen in the ribosomes of almost all living things on Earth, some RNA molecules have the known ability to catalyze the production of new RNA molecules. One of these early RNA molecules developed in such a way that it created an identical RNA molecule. This molecule’s concentration in the prebiotic soup sharply grew, and it continued to interact with itself and several proteins that also developed around it through abiogenesis.

The RNA molecule eventually developed mutations that enabled it to create a protein that would generate further RNA. Other mutations led to the production of proteins that turned RNA into DNA strands. As a result, the modern organism’s genome was created. These molecules gradually changed millions of years of evolutionary history, leading to the complexity of life as we know it today.

Abiogenesis Experiments 

Miler-Urey Experiment


In the early 1950s, Stanley Miller, a graduate student from the United States, and Harold Urey, his graduate advisor, decided to recreate an early Earth system to test the Oparin-Haldane abiogenesis hypothesis. After combining the theoretical elements and basic compounds in the air, they released sparks from the mixture. Through analysis of the chemical reaction products, they were able to identify the amino acids generated throughout the simulation. This evidence that the first portion of the idea was correct was used to support later studies that tried to establish replicating molecules from amino acids. These tests were unsuccessful. Researchers found that the prebiotic atmosphere of early Earth included more oxygen and fewer other important chemicals than the sample used in the Miller-Urey experiment after this experiment. It led some people to question if the conclusions were still valid. Since then, research has confirmed the initial findings by locating organic compounds, including amino acids, using an adjusted atmospheric composition.

Modern conceptions of Abiogenesis

This theory proposes that the physicochemical processes of atoms combining to form molecules, molecules then reacting to produce inorganic and organic chemicals, were the mechanisms by which life first appeared on the early earth. The first living system or cell was formed by the interaction of organic substances, which led to the production of various macromolecules.

So, in accordance with this hypothesis, “life” spontaneously appeared on Earth from non-living elements. According to the constantly shifting environmental circumstances, first inorganic chemicals and then organic compounds were produced. This is known as chemical evolution, which is not possible in the planet’s current environmental circumstances. Only the early Earth had the right conditions for life to begin.

Chemical theory and naturalistic theory are other names for the Oparin-Haldane theory. Russian scientist A. I. Oparin (1894–1980) was born. In 1936, he released his book “The Origin of Life,” and in 1938, an English translation followed. J.B.S. Haldane (1892-1964) moved to India in July 1957 and settled in Bhubaneswar, Orissa. He was born in England. He was a geneticist, biochemist, and biologist. Haldane (1929) and Oparin (1938) expressed similar ideas about the genesis of life.

Functions of Abiogenesis

Studying abiogenesis serves two purposes: 

  • it advances our understanding of how life came to exist on Earth, and 
  • it improves our knowledge of potential extraterrestrial life forms. 

Due to their ability to form bonds, divide into layers, produce more complex molecules, and remain largely stable, some chemicals function better than others when trying to build a life.
Abiogenesis, according to some scientists, may not have only happened on Earth but has also happened on other planets in our galaxy. To better assess if a planet has a higher likelihood of supporting life as we search for other planets like our own in space, we must understand how this phenomenon operates in case we come across an alien organism.

Examples of Abiogenesis

  • The process by which organic molecules spontaneously combine to create complex polymers that eventually give rise to living things is known as abiogenesis.
  • Polymers are said to have been the first forms of life since they can generate more complex molecules and possess the characteristics necessary for them to survive till reproduction.
  • Phosphorus-nitrogen bonds will indicate that extraterrestrial life is most likely extremely comparable to life on Earth if they are found in extraterrestrial creatures.
  • The fact that a lot of amino acids are synthesized by various energy sources, such as UV rays, supports the idea that abiogenesis probably has a place on many other worlds in our galaxy.

Who rejected the Theory of Abiogenesis?

Louis Pasteur is credited with effectively disproving the theory of spontaneous generation through his famous swan-neck flask experiment. After it, he said that “life only derives from life.”

Difference between Abiogenesis and Biogenesis




1.  The term “abiogenesis” refers to a theory on the origin of life that states that inorganic or inanimate things gave rise to life. A theory on the origin of life known as “biogenesis” contends that life began from living matter that was already there.
2.  Aristotle is the creator. Louis Pasteur is the creator.
3.  According to theory, life originates from non-living things. Theoretically, living things are where life first appears.
4.  None of the scientific experiments support this theory. The results of scientific experiments support this theory.
5.  This hypothesis is supported by national beliefs and observations. This theory is supported by empirical experiments and materialistic data.

FAQs on Abiogenesis

Question 1: What is abiogenesis?


An explanation for the development of simple life forms and organic molecules from inorganic materials is a theory about the evolution of early life on Earth.

Question 2: How significant is abiogenesis?


Accelerate critical chemical processes that could result in the replication of RNA and the creation of complexes like the ribosome, which convert RNA signals into proteins.

Question 3: A virus attaches to a cell and injects DNA into it. Proteins are made from DNA by the cell’s proteins and structures, which leads to an increase in viral DNA and protein instances. Viruses are not currently regarded as “living.” Can we consider the formation of a virus as Abiogenesis?


Because they cannot create new materials on their own, viruses are not considered living entities. However, essential materials are created by living cells. As a result, abiogenesis is not the cause of this. Only the location of the molecule’s synthesis determines whether the presence of carbon renders the molecule organic or inorganic.

Question 4: Describe abiogenesis. Is this an outright denial of the biogenesis hypothesis?


Biogenesis is the process of creating new life. More specifically, it is the idea that only other living creatures can reproduce and give rise to new life. Abiogenesis, often known as spontaneous generation, is the origin of life from non-living entities.

Question 5: Who is the originator of biogenesis and abiogenesis?


The originator of biogenesis is Louis Pasteur and abiogenesis Aristotle.

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