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Origin of Life
Gordon Research Conference

Note: This conference is currently known as "Origins of Life".

Dates

January 10-15, 2010

Location

Hotel Galvez
Galveston, TX

Organizers

Chair:
George E. Fox

Vice Chair:
Henderson J. Cleaves

Meeting Description

The origin and early development of life whether specifically on Earth, or possibly elsewhere in the universe, remains one of the great unsolved scientific problems. The 2010 Gordon Conference on the Origin of Life will present highly interdisciplinary cutting-edge research that seeks to improve our understanding of origins while allowing increasingly realistic scenarios for major events in life’s history. This year's conference will again underscore the rich diversity of perspectives while addressing a variety of key questions. Does life uniquely reside on the Earth or is it found elsewhere? Speakers will present and examine the most recent results of studies on Mars and efforts to detect and study extrasolar planets. How might an RNA World have emerged and led to modern living systems? Speakers will discuss recent advances in understanding self-replicating systems and prospects of developing model synthetic living systems. What was the earliest life on Earth like? Here speakers will examine the nature of the last common ancestor, the possibility of actually reconstructing ancient proteins and the early development of the translation machinery. What can the deep carbon cycle tell us about origins? Speakers will examine abiotic synthesis and deep microbial life. The Conference will bring together a collection of investigators who are at the forefront of their fields, and will provide opportunities for junior scientists and graduate students to present their work in poster format and exchange ideas with the presenters.

Immediately preceding the GRC, on Saturday, January 9, there will be a Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) for young investigators. Funding is being sought to allow partial travel and registration support for both the GRC and the GRS for graduate students and postdoctoral scientists who participate as presenters in the Gordon Research Seminar. For more information, please go to the 2010 Origin of Life GRS web site.

Related Meeting

This GRC was held in conjunction with the "Origin of Life" Gordon Research Seminar (GRS). Refer to the associated GRS program page for more information.

Contributors

With thanks for the generous support provided by:
The Deep Carbon Observatory
Carnegie Institution of Washington
NASA - Astrobiology Institute
NASA - Exobiology Program
NSF - Genes and Genomes Program

Meeting Program

SUNDAY
4:00 pm - 8:00 pmArrival and Check-in (Office Closed 6:00 pm - 7:45 pm)
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 7:40 pmWelcome / Introductory Comments by GRC Site Staff
7:40 pm - 9:30 pmDid Metal Chemistry Drive Early Events in the History of Life?
Discussion Leader: Steve Benner (Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution)
7:40 pm - 8:20 pmGünter Wächtershäuser (University North Carolina-Chapel Hill)
"Chemical Pre-determination and Directionality in Early Evolution up to the Origin of the Domains Bacteria and Archaea"
8:20 pm - 8:35 pm Discussion
8:35 pm - 9:15 pmArmen Mulkidjanian (Universität Osnabrück)
"Primeval Energetics: From the ZnS-Mediated Photosynthesis to the First Sodium Pumps"
9:15 pm - 9:30 pm Discussion
9:30 pm Reception
MONDAY
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
8:30 amGroup Photo
9:00 am - 12:30 pmDeep Carbon Cycle
Discussion Leader: John Baross (University of Washington)
9:00 am - 9:30 amNorman Sleep (Stanford University)
"The Onset of Plate Tectonics on Earth and the Importance of Plate Tectonics to the Origin of Life"
9:30 am - 9:45 am Discussion
9:45 am - 10:15 amGeorge Cody (Carnegie Institute of Washington)
"Abiotic Organic Synthesis Catalyzed by Metals at High Temperature and Pressures"
10:15 am - 10:30 am Discussion
10:30 am - 11:00 am Coffee Break
11:00 am - 11:30 amTom McCollom (Univ. Colorado)
"Microscale Biosignatures:Carbon and Sulfur Cycling in Extreme Environments"
11:30 am - 11:45 am Discussion
11:45 am - 12:15 pmMartin Schoonen (SUNY-Stony Brook)
"Role of Minerals and their defects in prebiotic synthesis"
12:15 pm - 12:30 pm Discussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 8:50 pmInsights to Early Life from Microbial Geochemistry
Discussion Leader: Andy Ellington (University Texas Austin)
7:30 pm - 8:00 pmJohn Baross (University of Washington)
"Microbial Ecology of Deep Ocean Environments"
8:00 pm - 8:10 pm Discussion
8:10 pm - 8:40 pmCarrine Blank (University of Montana)
"Freshwater Ancestry in the early Cyanobacteria and Eukaryotic Algae- Implications for Ancient Biogeochemical Processes and the Rise in Atmospheric Oxygen"
8:40 pm - 8:50 pm Discussion
8:50 pm - 9:30 pmInsights to Early Living Systems
Discussion Leader: Pierre-Alan Monnard (University of South Denmark)
8:50 pm - 9:20 pmJan Spitzer (Mallard Creek Polymers Inc.)
"The Role of Biomacromolecular Crowding, Ionic Strength, and Physiochemical Gradients in the Complexities of Life Emergence"
9:20 pm - 9:30 pm Discussion
TUESDAY
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmExtant and/or Ancient Life on Mars?
Discussion Leader: David Des Marais (NASA Ames Research Center)
9:00 am - 9:30 amBethany Ehlmann (Brown University)
"Evidence for diverse hydrothermal and weathering environments on ancient (>3.5Ga) Mars from recent orbital observations"
9:30 am - 9:45 am Discussion
9:45 am - 10:15 amNicholas J. Tosca (University of Cambridge, England)
"Mineralogical Constraints on the History of Martian Water and Implications for Life"
10:15 am - 10:30 am Discussion
10:30 am - 11:00 am Coffee Break
11:00 am - 11:30 am Jennifer Eigenbrode (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
"The Quest for Organic Carbon on Mars"
11:30 am - 11:45 am Discussion
11:45 am - 12:15 pmTori Hoehler (NASA Ames Research Center)
"Moving Beyond ‘Follow the Water’ Toward a More Comprehensive Approach for Exploring Habitable Martian Environments"
12:15 pm - 12:30 pm Discussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmSelf Replicating Systems
Discussion Leader: Henderson Cleaves (Carnegie Institute of Washington)
7:30 pm - 8:00 pmNicholas Hud (Georgia Institute of Technology )
"The Factors that Control the Folding, Stability, and Assembly of Higher Order Self- Replicating Systems"
8:00 pm - 8:10 pm Discussion
8:10 pm - 8:40 pmNicolas Giuseppone (Université Louis Pasteur de Strasbourg, France)
"Self-replication and Adaptation Processes in Dynamic Combinatorial Systems"
8:40 pm - 8:50 pm Discussion
8:50 pm - 9:20 pmPierre-Alan Monnard (University of South Denmark)
"Linking a catalytic reaction to the replication of primitive membranes: A step towards protocell integration"
9:20 pm - 9:30 pm Discussion
WEDNESDAY
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmAssembling Living Systems: New Approaches and Challenges
Discussion Leader: David Deamer (University of California Santa Cruz)
9:00 am - 9:30 amIrene A. Chen (Harvard University)
"Information During the Origins of Life"
9:30 am - 9:45 am Discussion
9:45 am - 10:15 amAnthony Forster (Vanderbilt University Medical Center)
"The Genetic Code: Origin, Manipulation, and Transplantation for Minimal Cell Synthesis"
10:15 am - 10:30 am Discussion
10:30 am - 11:00 am Coffee Break
11:00 am - 11:30 amTetsuya Yomo (Osaka University, Japan)
"Self-replication of Genetic Information in Lipid Vesicles"
11:30 am - 11:45 am Discussion
11:45 am - 12:15 pmClyde Hutchison (J. Craig Ventner Institute, Rockville MD)
"Towards the Synthesis of Life"
12:15 pm - 12:30 pm Discussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmEarly Cellular Life: Properties and Constraints
Discussion Leader: Zaida Luthey-Schulten (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign)
7:30 pm - 8:00 pmArcady Mushegian (Stowers Institute for Medical Research)
"Probabilistic Inference of Gene Content in the Last Universal Common Ancestor of Cellular Life"
8:00 pm - 8:10 pm Discussion
8:10 pm - 8:40 pmGreg Fournier (University of Connecticut)
"Protein evolution before the MRCA: Ancestral Reconstruction, Compositional Analysis, and Functional Specificity"
8:40 pm - 8:50 pm Discussion
8:50 pm - 9:20 pmSteve Benner (Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution)
"Paleomolecular Resurrection- Resurrecting Ancient Proteins"
9:20 pm - 9:30 pm Discussion
THURSDAY
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmOrigin and Evolution of Translation Machinery
Discussion Leader: George E. Fox (University of Houston)
9:00 am - 9:30 amAda Yonath (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel)
"The Detection of the Prebiotic Machinery for Peptide Bond Formation within the Contemporary Ribosome"
9:30 am - 9:45 am Discussion
9:45 am - 10:15 amLoren Williams (Georgia Institute of Technology)
"Evolution of the Large Ribosomal Subunit"
10:15 am - 10:30 am Discussion
10:30 am - 11:00 am Coffee Break
11:00 am - 11:30 amHyman Hartmann (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
"The Origin and Evolution of the Ribosome: The Evolution of the Ribosomal Proteins"
11:30 am - 11:45 am Discussion
11:45 am - 12:15 pmZaida Luthey-Schulten (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign)
"Molecular Signatures of Ribosomal Evolution"
12:15 pm - 12:30 pm Discussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:00 pm - 7:30 pmBusiness Meeting
(Nominations for the next Vice Chair; Fill out Conference Evaluation Forms; Discuss future Site & Scheduling preferences; Election of the next Vice Chair)
7:30 pm - 7:50 pmStudent Speaker Selected by Origin of Life GRS Attendees
7:50 pm - 8:00 pm Discussion
8:00 pm - 9:30 pmRNA World
Discussion Leader: Nicholas Hud (Georgia Institute of Technology)
8:00 pm - 8:40 pmAndy Ellington (University of Texas Austin)
"RNA World- Evolution of Complex Catalysts and Systems"
8:40 pm - 8:55 pm Discussion
8:45 pm - 9:15 pmNiles Lehman (Portland State University)
"Cooperation before selfishness in the RNA World"
9:15 pm - 9:30 pm Discussion
FRIDAY
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 amDepart
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