Addressing the emergence of life from a systems biology perspective, this new edition has undergone extensive revision, reflecting changes in scientific understanding and evolution of thought on the question 'what is life?'. With an emphasis on the philosophical aspects of science, including the epistemic features of modern synthetic biology, and also providing an updated view of the autopoiesis/cognition theory, The Emergence of Life gives an exhaustive treatment of the biophysical properties of vesicles, seen as the beginning of the 'road map' to the minimal cell – a road map which will develop into the question of whether and to what extent synthetic biology will be capable of making minimal life in the laboratory. Fully illustrated, accessibly written, directly challenging the reader with provocative questions, offering suggestions for research proposals, and including dialogues with contemporary authors such as Humberto Maturana, Albert Eschenmoser and Harold Morowitz, this is an ideal resource for researchers and students across fields including bioengineering, evolutionary biology, molecular biology, chemistry and chemical engineering.
Part I. Approaches to the Origin of Life:
1. Setting the stage
2. The hardware
3. Ascending the ramp of complexity
4. Experimental approaches to the origins of life
5. Origin of life from ground zero
Part II. What is Life? The Bio-Logics of Cellular Life:
6. Autopoiesis – the invariant property
Part III. Order and Organization in Biological Systems:
9. The notion of emergence
10. Self-replication and self-reproduction
Part IV. The World of Vesicles:
11. The various types of surfactant aggregates
12. Vesicle reactivity and transformations
13. Biochemistry and molecular biology in vesicles
Part V. Towards the Synthetic Biology of Minimal Cells:
14. A panoramic view of synthetic biology
15. The minimal cell
Pier Luigi Luisi is Professor Emeritus at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETHZ) in Switzerland, where he developed his professional career, notably initiating Cortona Week in 1985. He has also held the position of Professor in Biochemistry at the University of Rome 3. He has authored more than 500 peer-reviewed papers as well as a number of books, including, recently, The Systems View of Life (2014) with Fritjof Capra.
"It is ten years since Professor Luisi's classic book The Emergence of Life appeared. It is highly welcome therefore that this second edition will explain many of the important advances that have occurred in the last decade. With his profound systems approach, Professor Luisi is better placed than anyone to do this. He also includes valuable interviews with other leading systems scientists. Highly recommended for those working in and interested in this growing field."
– Denis Noble, University of Oxford
"In the theory of evolution, the spontaneous increase in complexity from inorganic matter to the emergence of life has been a mystery ever since Darwin first speculated about it. During recent decades, however, a new systemic approach to this puzzle emerged and led to a series of remarkable discoveries and experimental achievements. Pier Luigi Luisi has been at the very center of this exciting new field of research for over thirty years, and in this book he distills his experience into a coherent and fascinating narrative – essential reading for anyone interested in the science of the origin of life on Earth."
– Fritjof Capra, Center for Ecoliteracy, Berkeley, California