Peptides, Membranes, Ancient Geology and the Origins of Darwinian Evolution

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The aim of this project is to investigate what role peptide stabilisation of protocells (liposomes) could realistically provide a selection force capable of explaining the emergence of Darwinian evolution in realistic pre-biotic systems. This project builds on cutting-edge development in self-assembly and peptide chemistry with information gained from geological studies on one of the oldest rock formations on the planet (Pilbara, Australia). The project will study how amino acids and peptides polymerize inside liposomes upon repeated dehydration/rehydration cycles incorporating Precambrian-relevant minerals and clays as catalysts, with the ultimate target being the detection of chemically-evolved 'fit' peptides that stabilize liposomal structures.

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Supervisory team
Pall
Thordarson

Science
Chemistry
Martin
Van Kranendonk

Science
Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Paul
Curmi

Science
Physics
p.thordarson@unsw.edu.au

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