Hydrothermal vents and the origin of life

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2008 Nov;6(11):805-14. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro1991. Epub 2008 Sep 29.


Submarine hydrothermal vents are geochemically reactive habitats that harbour rich microbial communities. There are striking parallels between the chemistry of the H(2)-CO(2) redox couple that is present in hydrothermal systems and the core energy metabolic reactions of some modern prokaryotic autotrophs. The biochemistry of these autotrophs might, in turn, harbour clues about the kinds of reactions that initiated the chemistry of life. Hydrothermal vents thus unite microbiology and geology to breathe new life into research into one of biology's most important questions - what is the origin of life?

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Energy Metabolism
  • Hot Springs*
  • Origin of Life*
  • Prokaryotic Cells / metabolism
  • Seawater*