Rapid Growth and Fusion of Protocells in Surface-Adhered Membrane Networks
Journal article, 2020

Elevated temperatures might have promoted the nucleation, growth, and replication of protocells on the early Earth. Recent reports have shown evidence that moderately high temperatures not only permit protocell assembly at the origin of life, but can have actively supported it. Here, the fast nucleation and growth of vesicular compartments from autonomously formed lipid networks on solid surfaces, induced by a moderate increase in temperature, are shown. Branches of the networks, initially consisting of self-assembled interconnected nanotubes, rapidly swell into microcompartments which can spontaneously encapsulate RNA fragments. The increase in temperature further causes fusion of adjacent network-connected compartments, resulting in the redistribution of the RNA. The experimental observations and the mathematical model indicate that the presence of nanotubular interconnections between protocells facilitates the fusion process.

lipid nanotubes

origin of life

temperature-induced fusion



Elif Senem Köksal

University of Oslo

Susanne Liese

University of Oslo

Lin Xue

University of Oslo

Ruslan Ryskulov

Chalmers, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Physical Chemistry

Lauri Leo Kustaa Viitala

Chalmers, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Andreas Carlson

University of Oslo

Irep Gözen

University of Oslo

Chalmers, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry


1613-6810 (ISSN) 1613-6829 (eISSN)

Vol. 16 38 2002529

Subject Categories

Physical Chemistry

Other Chemical Engineering

Metallurgy and Metallic Materials



More information

Latest update