How did life get started?

Life probably originated in hot springs, deep in the sea. This experimental simulation can show how inanimate chemistry can change into a first form of biochemistry in a world full of energy around these thermal springs.

How did life get started?

[Funded by the Origins Center]

Researchers have strong indications that life originated deep in the ocean nearly four billion years ago. The early Earth was a world with a lot of energy that needed to dissipate. The origin of life is probably the result of energetic imbalances, just like many phenomena in nature.

We built a simulator in which we simulate the high pressure and high temperature at subsea hot springs (hydrothermal vents) in the earliest Hadean era.

The current disconnect between inanimate chemistry and a basic version of biochemistry is perhaps the biggest problem of research into the origin of life. Using this simulator, researchers hope to mimic the emergence of a first form of metabolism. This will help them to link inanimate chemistry with biochemistry.

Project team

The project is carried out within the research groups of Mariëtte Wolthers, Helen King, Oliver Plümper, Paul Mason and Inge Loes ten Kate of Utrecht University and Sijbren Otto of the University of Groningen. 

Principal investigator is Eloi Camprubí-Casas.d 

Origins Center Projects


Eloi Camprubi

Utrecht University, Origins Center

Eloi Camprubi

Utrecht University, Origins Center



Fields of interest:

I work in understanding how and why chemical networks display life-like properties and in revealing under which conditions these transitions are promoted. I aim to be involved in the design of space exploration missions targeting the water-rich planetary bodies of the Solar System.

Origin of life, astrobiology, prebiotic chemistry, metabolism, bioenergetics


Become a fan of the Origins Center and always stay up to date with the latest news about all our research fields!
Sign up

This website uses cookies

Cookies kunnen gebruikt worden voor het bijhouden van statistieken, het optimaliseren van de website, integratie van social media en voor marketingdoeleinden.

adjust cookie settings
accept all cookies

Lees meer over cookies in onze privacyverklaring.

accept these cookies