The Origins of Life

The Metabolism First, Replication First, and Compartmentalization First Theories


  • Hannah Mahoney McMaster University


Origin of Life, Early Earth, Multidisciplinary


When, where, and how did life on Earth originate? The origin of life problem involves multiple scientific disciplines and has spanned multiple decades. It can be summarized into three stages: (1) the origin of biological monomers, (2) the origin of biological polymers, and (3) the emergence and evolution of cells. While highly speculative, the connections between these stages are theorized by attempting to determine the geochemical situations which could have driven chemical evolution and allow for the emergence of specific chemical functions of biological systems. This review summarizes reported findings relevant to the early Earth environment and the main theories in the origin of life subject. Specific focus is placed on the metabolism first, RNA world, and compartmentalization first theories as they are involved in the origin of life paradox. The review then discusses submarine hydrothermal vents as a possible location for which life could have occurred. Understanding of information pertaining to the origin of life is important as it allows for advancement and discoveries in other fields of science and medicine. Overall, the aim of this review is to display the relevant information about the origin of life theory and highlight the importance of future research.




How to Cite

Mahoney, H. (2020). The Origins of Life: The Metabolism First, Replication First, and Compartmentalization First Theories. Sciential - McMaster Undergraduate Science Journal, (4), 2-7. Retrieved from



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