Isn’t this origin-of-life speculation more like science fiction than like science?
“The scenario described can be viewed as the ancestor of mitosis,” Attal says. “Having no biological archives as old as 4 billion years, we don’t know exactly what FUCA contained, but it was probably a vesicle bounded by a lipid bilayer encapsulating some exothermic chemical reactions.”
Although purely theoretical, the model could be tested experimentally. For example, one could use fluorescent molecules to measure temperature variations inside eukaryotic cells, in which mitochondria are the main source of heat. These fluctuations could be correlated with the onset of mitosis and with the shape of the mitochondrial network.
If borne out by future investigations, the model would have several important implications, Attal says. “An important message is that the forces driving the development of life are fundamentally simple,” he explains. “A second lesson is that temperature gradients matter in biochemical processes and cells can function like thermal machines.” The paper is open access.Cell Press, “Origin of Life: The First Cells Might Have Used Temperature To Divide” at (September 3, 2021)