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Origins 2011 – Abstracts

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P8: Posters – Evolutionary Perspectives: from Molecules to Biodiversity and Extraterrestrial Intelligence
Time: Tuesday, 05/Jul/2011: 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Location: Hall Antigone


Symmetrical thermodynamic representation of the Standard Genetic Code in three dimensions: Evolutionary implications

Marco Jose1, Tzipe Govezensky1, Eberto Morgado2

1Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico; 2Universidad Central “Marta Abreu” de Las Villas, Santa Clara, Cuba

We assigned the Gibbs free energy of anticodon-amino acid associations in 3-dimensional algebraic models of the Standard Genetic Code. An outstanding set of symmetries in regard to energy of anticodon-amino acid becomes evident. This finding represents the most symmetrical property ever found in regard to the SGC despite its uneven degeneracy. The latter interactions are relics of the underlying force driving the evolution of the genetic code.


Wide host range and extensive metabolic potential in a hydrothermal vent viral assemblage revealed through metagenomics

Rika Anderson1, William Brazelton1,2, John Baross1

1School of Oceanography and Astrobiology Program, University of Washington, United States of America; 2Department of Biology, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA

Hydrothermal vents are among the most dynamic, extreme, and ancient habitats on the planet. We have analyzed a hydrothermal vent virome to determine the taxonomy and thermal regime of the microbial hosts, as well as the metabolic potential of the viral assemblage. Our results indicate that the vent viral assemblage may infect a wide range of hosts and also encodes a high diversity of metabolic genes, and thus may facilitate lateral gene transfer between hosts in the dynamic vent environment.


On the Many Processes of Chemical Evolution

Christophe Malaterre


The notion of chemical evolution is controversially defined in reference to Darwinian evolution: for some, it is nothing but natural selection applied to chemical systems; yet, for others, it is precisely what happened before natural selection, the latter being the birthmark of life. Taking into account a plurality of evolutionary processes, I propose to construe chemical evolution as a composite theory within which natural selection might only be one of several evolutionary processes.


Interaction of Aromatic Amines with Metal Ferrocyanides and its Relevance to Chemical Evolution and Origins of Life

Brij Tewari, Dale Srinivas, Denzil Fung-Khee

University of Guyana, Guyana

The interaction of Aromtic amines with metal ferrocyanides and its relevance to chemical evolution and origins of life. metal ferrocyanide reactions will be explored in the presentation.


Interplanetary implications of the evolution of ethics

Erik Persson

The Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Studies, Lund University, Sweden

What is the ethics of extraterrestrials? To give an exact answer to this is obviously not possible until we meet them. It might be possible however to get some idea of how ethics can evolve from looking at our own species. I will take a look at some questions and answers relating to the evolution of ethics. How these questions are answered has implications for what we can expect from intelligent extraterrestrial life depending on their level of intelligence and social interaction.


Efficiency of Oxygenic Photosynthesis in the Far Red Light-Utilizing Cyanobacterium, Acaryochloris marina

Steven P. Mielke1,2, Nancy Y. Kiang1, Robert E. Blankenship3, David Mauzerall2

1NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, USA; 2Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA; 3Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA

We present direct measurements of the thermodynamic efficiency of photosynthesis in the Chl d-utilizing cyanobacterium, Acaryochloris marina. Our results indicate that oxygenic photochemistry is not fundamentally limited at far-red wavelengths, extending the range of light environments able to sustain oxygenic phototrophy into the far-red / near-IR. This suggests that oxygen-producing photoconversion is potentially a ubiquitous mode of stellar energy transduction.


Detection of metabolic activity by125I-Iododeoxyuridine incorporation into DNA in Colwellia psychrerythraea over a temperature range from 8 °C to -40 °C

David P Summers1, Fathi Karouia2, Carolina Duart-Garcia3, Hector Diaz-Maldonado3, Orlando Santos4, Jonathan D Trent4

1Carl Sagan Center/SETI, c/o NASA Ames Research Center, United Sates of America; 2ORAU, c/o NASA Ames Research Center, United Sates of America; 3Integrants Program, Spanish ministry of Education and Science, Spain; 4NASA Ames Research Center, United States of America

The range of habitable conditions for life is an important question in Astrobiology. A limiting factor survival is the repair of damage to DNA. The incorporation of 125I-deoxyuridine into the DNA of Colwellia psychrerythraea has been studied over a temperature range from 8 °C to -40 °C. The results are consistent with the view that DNA repair and/or synthesis can occur below 0 °C. They also show that this method has the potential to enable the detection of metabolic activity at low levels.


How clouds and continental distribution affect on the Earth reflectance?

Esther Sanroma Ramos, Enric Palle

Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Spain

We have used information about ocean and continental distribution of the Earth, and cloudiness data from ISCCP with the aim of studying the behaviour of large-scale clouds according to latitude and surface types. We have used empirical relationships to reconstruct possible cloud distribution for different epochs of the Earth such as 90 and 230 Ma ago. We have used this information to simulate the photometric variability of these epochs according to their different geographical distribution


Exoarchaeology and evolution

John Campbell

James Cook University, Australia

For direct study of evolution we have Earth, and we have other parts of the Solar System that might have evidence for life, past or present. There are more than 520 exoplanets known, but only a very few seem to have the right conditions for life. But what conditions are really required for the evolution of complex life and in particular the evolution of intelligence? What can exoarchaeology tell us? Is Earth really useful as a model? Are there alternative models that might be tried?


The Evolution of Cognitive Processes in the Universe

David Dunér

The Pufendorf Institute, Lund University, Sweden

Our cognition is a result of both evolutionary history and socio-cultural history. Cognition evolves in interplay with the environment. In this paper I discuss from a cognitive evolutionary perspective the question of extraterrestrial intelligence and interstellar communication. The research in the evolution of cognition on Earth, can give us a starting point for a broader, future research discipline, “astrocognition”, the study of the evolution of cognitive processes in the universe.


The evolution of RNA genomes from a “quasispecies” perspective

Irma Lozada-Chavez2, A. Nabor Lozada-Chavez1, Marco V. Jose1

1Institute for Biomedical Research, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico; 2Interdisciplinary Center for Bioinformatics and Department of Computer Science, University of Leipzig, D-04107 Leipzig, Germany

We show that RNA viruses and probably systems like-viruses are evolving as quasispecies, within an error threshold of 1 and 2 mutations per replication. An error catastrophe, but not extinction, is observed preserving populations with lower fitness but greater mutational robustness. We performed a genetic algorithm and a mutational fitness measure based on functional regions of the HIV-1 genome. A high proportion of negatively selected positions in the genome leads viral evolution considerably.


Do todays viruses reflect evolution and origin of life?

Karin Moelling

Institute of Medical Microbiology, Zurich, Switzerland

Virus-first hypothesis: contemporary viruses may reflect evolution from the RNA to the DNA world and origin of life. Replication and evolution are criteria for life. Ribozymes are todays plant viruses and ribosomes, followed by segmented influenza, para- and retroviruses. Cells were first for double-stranded DNA viruses. 50% of our genome are retroelements today, perhaps once 100%? RNA-to-DNA transition occurs every day in the telomeres. Mimiviruses are transitions from viruses to bacteria.


Origin of Life in an Iron-Sulfur World

John Peters

Astrobiology Biogeocatalysis Research Center, United States of America

Iron-sulfur proteins are ubiquitous and catalyze a number of reactions important to metabolic energy transformations and carbon and nitrogen fixation. The similarities between biological iron-sulfur motifs clusters and iron-sulfur minerals are too strong to be coincidental and can be exploited for understanding the transition to the living Earth and the emergence of biology. Insights into the origin and evolution of iron-sulfur enzymes and links to the RNA World will be presented.


Photosynthetic activity and community structure in intertidal microbial mats revealed by stable-isotope probing combined with magnetic-bead capture of taxon-specific rRNA

Akiko Tomitani1, Henricus T. S. Boschker2, Lucas J. Stal2

1Institute of Biogeosciences, JAMSTEC, Japan; 2The Netherlands Institute of Ecology, the Netherlands

Cyanobacteria are the first oxygenic photosynthetic bacteria and have played a significant role in biological and environmental history of earth. In this study, we carried out stable-isotope probing of RNA combined with a magnetic-bead capture method to assess change in community structure and photosynthetic activity under different redox conditions in intertidal microbial mats, as a modern model ecosystem for the study of cyanobacterial response to the redox shift in the early Earth.


Random folded RNAs. Implication for the RNA-World.

Fabrizio Maria Anella1, Davide De Lucrezia2, Cristiano Chiarabelli1, Pier Luigi Luisi1

1University of 'Roma TRE', Italy; 2European Centre for Living Technology, 30124Venice, Italy

Within the RNA World framework, our "Never Born Biopolymers" project and in particular the "Never Born RNAs" aims at exploring the RNAs’ sequence space for catalytic functions. Knowing the firm relation between structure and function we decided to explore random RNA library for structural stability. Having observed a general stability even at high temperatures, the next step will involve functional characterization of those RNAs.


Phosphates, Iron and the Prebiological Evolution of Metabolism

Andy Pratt

University of Canterbury, New Zealand

A model for the prebiological evolution of autocatalytic networks in hydrothermal pores to vesicular protocells is based on iron phosphate chemical constraints. Selection mechanisms include catalytic efficiency, specificity, hydrolytic stability and solubility. Complexation of Fe(II) underpins a sugar phosphate-based metabolism. Reproductive fidelity is a key selection pressure for the emergence of protocells with nucleic acid-based digital information, capable of Darwinian evolution.


Sequence: A new dimension in rapid metagenomic profiling

Linda McGown1, Yingying Dong1, DeEtta Mills2

1Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, United States of America; 2Florida International Univeristy, United States of America

Microbial communities may hold clues to the emergence and evolution of life. Their full genomic analysis entails large-scale sequencing of pooled genomes. Profiling of ribosomal genes provides valuable information with less cost, time and complexity. Currently, DNA fragments are separated by length but not sequence and are likely to under-estimate community diversity. We are expanding the power of metagenomic profiling through a new technique that resolves fragments by both length and sequence.