The prokaryotic cell still had a basic shape. But it was a full-fledged and living cell that quickly spread across the Earth. There is still a great variety of prokaryotes on Earth. The best known are the bacteria. Another less known group are the Archaea. This is a very versatile group of unicellular organisms including many extremophiles. Extremophiles are living cells that thrive under extreme conditions such as heat, pressure, little oxygen and little food. They can be found in and around hot springs, in the deep sea and miles deep in the Earth’s crust.
Researchers want to know which step(s) eventually led to a first living primal cell. What gave the cell its spatial shape and compartmentalization in relation to its environment? What exchange of chemicals and energy took place in that cell? How did cell division and replication of such a primal cell take place?
But an important focus also lies on investigating the enormous diversity that arose among prokaryotes. Different prokaryotic cells have fused into more complex cells with multiple functions such as photosynthesis and cell respiration.
Finally, researchers are also working on a real living synthetic cell according to the principle of a prokaryotic primordial cell.