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CMST COST Action D27
Prebiotic Chemistry and Early Evolution

Action D27 aimed at developing the chemistry connected with the origin of life and early evolution of life on Earth, with special emphasis on self-replicating systems, prebiotic synthesis of nucleic acids and polypeptides, as well as simple protocells as early models of biological cells. To accomplish this objective, D27 has coordinated the scientific activities of the very many European research laboratories working in the field of prebiotic chemistry and early evolution, has contributed to focus these activities into a few important research directions for greater efficiency, and has established itself as the first European research network on prebiotic chemistry, origin of life and early evolution capable of interacting at an international level and in a competitive way. Action D27 has performed work on self-replicating systems, guided by an RNA-world scenario. Theoretical aspects on self-replication and evolution in the context of network theory have also been addressed. Work on the prebiotic synthesis of nucleic acids and peptides has been carried out following three lines of investigation: one line focused on new pathways for the prebiotic synthesis of nucleosides, on non-enzymatic template-directed polymerisation of activated nucleotides, as well as on the study of interactions and the catalytic interplay of RNA and minerals; another was guided by a new scenario of prebiotic peptide synthesis, the 'prebiotic pump' for which both the formation and polymerisation of N-carboxyanhydrides as well as the peptide catalysis involved became the subject of experimental and theoretical studies; the third connected the work on prebiotic peptide synthesis with experimental approaches toward chiral symmetry breaking and chiral amplification, and the use of surfaces and liposomes for lipopeptide synthesis. The latter work thus has also contributed to the development of simple protocells as early models of biological cells. Work carried out by various teams focused on the structure, dynamics and permeation properties of decanoic acid and other vesicles monitored by small and wide angle X-ray diffraction, EPR, and light scattering, whereas other teams concentrated they efforts on vesicle self-reproduction, the elucidation of the so-called matrix effect, the modelling of protocell proliferation and the creation of molecular diversity on and inside of such protocell models. Action D27 coordinated the work of over 50 laboratories in Europe belonging to 18 COST countries. In addition, teams from Russia and Australia have participated in the network. The achievements of this Action have been disseminated through Action-organised annual workshops and Working Group meetings, presentations in international conferences and the publication of a very large number research articles in peer-reviewed journals.

(Descriptions are provided by the Actions directly via e-COST.)

General Information*

Chair of the Action:


Vice Chair of the Action:


Science officer of the Action:

Dr Lucia FORZI

Administrative officer of the Action:

Ms Svetlana VOINOVA


Action Fact Sheet

Download AFS as .RTF

Memorandum of Understanding

Download MoU as PDF

Mid-term Report

Download Mid-term Report as PDF

Final Report

Download Final Report as PDF


Last updated: 02 May 2011 top of page