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CONVENERS


Prof Elias Chatzitheodoridis, National Technical University of Athens, Greece
Dr Sohan Jheeta, Independent Research Scientist, UK
Dr Martin Dominik, University of St Andrews, UK
Prof Nigel Mason, The Open University, UK

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2018 MOLECULES to MICROBES

The exact origin of life remains an unfathomable mystery, however this does not mean that it will always remain so. Given that life on Earth did emerge, there must have been physico-chemical reactions that allowed this to happen - in the absence of an omnipotent “being” or an extraordinary event, whereby life arose, once only, more or less in the form of a ready-made unit of cells, bypassing the necessary chemical evolution and dispensing with the laws of physics, as claimed by all religions. Such physico-chemical reactions can result in diametrically opposed viewpoints; that is, either that life-giving reactions miraculously occurred only once, intimating that we are alone in the Universe, or, that the reactions of life are so common that galaxies could be laden with living entities everywhere.

At the centre of these viewpoints is the question of consciousness and intelligence. These human attributes become germane and important, as without these living beings, there would no-one around to ask the question of " life, the Universe and everything”, to take an extract from Douglas Adam’s 1979 sci-fi book.. In short, the emergence and evolution of consciousness and intelligence is also inextricably linked to the origin of life, although during the largest part of Earth’s history (perhaps, over 80%) slime was the only occupant (Seilacher,et al., 1998; Jheeta, 2017); human intelligence having only evolved perhaps less than100,000 years or so ago. It is from this stance that we will address the topic of Molecules to Microbes (see editorial paper of the same title); the latter gave rise to eukaryotes, which eventually developed into the intelligent observer. Everyone looking back through the history and evolution of the Universe is asking: how did life begin on Earth and is there life elsewhere in the Universe?

References
Adams, D, The Hitcher’s Guide to the Galaxy 1979 Pan Books
Seilacher, A.; Bose, P.K.; Pflüger, F. TriploblasticAnimals More Than 1 Billion Years Ago: Trace Fossil Evidence from India.Science 1998, 282, 80–83. 1.
Jheeta,S. 2017, Life. 7: 1-11. doi:10.3390/life7020027
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NOVEMBER 5-6 2018, ATHENS
Network of Researchers on Horizontal Gene Transfer and Last Universal Common Ancestor | HGT | LUCA | RNA | Origin of Life | Viruses | DNA
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