What is the Abiogenesis Theory: Its Advantages and Disadvantages

Has Sinaumed’s ever asked about how this world was formed or about how humans can be born? If so, then surely you will find varied answers. If you’ve ever heard of the Big Bang theory as the beginning of the formation of the Earth, in Biology there is also a theory called the theory of abiogenesis as the theory of the beginning of the formation of living things on Earth.

Science is always developing every day. It is not surprising that at any time there will be the possibility of discovering theories or even theories that can disprove pre-existing theories. This is due to the development of technology which also affects the development of science.

As we understand that humans are living beings who have high curiosity. Long before there was a theory that discussed the origin of the universe, namely based on the big bang theory, humans themselves had thought about how living things appeared on this Earth. No wonder there are many opinions about the origin of living things. One of them is the theory of abiogenesis. But, what exactly is the theory of abiogenesis? Let’s discuss in full below.

What is the Abiogenesis Theory?

The theory of abiogenesis or biopoiesis is a study that discusses how biological life can arise from organic matter through natural processes. Specifically, this one term refers to the process by which life on Earth arose. Abiogenesis is thought to have occurred in the early Archean period or about 3 to 4 billion years ago.

Most of the amino acids, which are often referred to as “the building blocks of life”, were successfully synthesized in the Miller-Urey experiment and in other experiments simulating the conditions of early Earth. As for other important biochemical materials such as nucleotides and also saccharides can appear in a similar way. In all organisms, these biochemicals are organized into even more complex molecules such as proteins, nucleic acids, as well as polysaccharides. The three molecules are essential for the functioning of life and are also present in all organisms.

The formation of these macromolecules is mediated by nucleic acids as well as enzymes, which are synthesized through biochemical pathways catalyzed by proteins. Which organic molecules first appeared and how they might have helped the first organisms is still being debated.

The first life to appear on Earth is thought to have been a single-celled prokaryotic that may have evolved from protobionts or organic molecules surrounded by a membrane-like structure. The oldest recorded micro fossils date from 3.5 billion years ago, the ratio of isotopes of carbon, iron, and sulfur shows the influence of life on minerals and inorganic sediments and also as a molecular marker indicates the occurrence of photosynthesis.

Modern abiogenesis, which was first coined by Oparin and Haldane in the 1920s, is different from classical abiogenesis or spontaneous generation. One of the most fundamental differences is that modern abiogenesis is an explanation of the origins of life phenomena while classical abiogenesis coined by Aristotle explains how certain animals or plants routinely appear without going through reproduction. For other differences, namely in terms of mechanism, where modern abiogenesis is based on modern biochemical knowledge, while classical abiogenesis is based on classical concepts such as material principles, movement principles, and also spirit principles. The absence of proof of classical abiogenesis is now even more controversial among professional biologists,

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History of the Theory of Abiogenesis

The theory of abiogenesis is a science that studies how biological life arises from naturally occurring inorganic materials. Where this one theory refers to the process when the formation of Planet Earth. It is thought that this abiogenesis theory occurred early in the Eoarchean or 4 billion years long on a relative time scale. This theory is classified as the oldest theory that discusses the origin of living things. It can be said that the theory of abiogenesis is a theory that explains if living things come from inanimate matter. This opinion arose based on a simple thought when he saw frogs or worms emerging from the mud or soil.

The theory of abiogenesis was first coined by Aristotle in 384 to 322 BC which was a scientist from Greece. Abiogenesis or also known as spontaneous generation theory is made based on the observation made by Aristotle that the fish in the river come from mud. Not only that, he also conducted an experiment on soil that was soaked in water and the result was that worms emerged from the soil. Based on these experiments, the theory of abiogenesis became the basis, that living things came from non-living things. Generatio Spontanea or what is called the classical theory of abiogenesis has been recorded in Aristotle’s book entitled Historia Animalium.

This theory was still believed until the end of the 17th century and one of its supporters was a British scientist named Nedham. Nedham conducted an experiment by boiling the broth in a container for a few minutes. Then, He covered it with a cork. Within a few days, in the broth that was stored there were bacteria. So Nedham concluded that the bacteria that appeared in the broth came from the broth itself.

The proof of the abiogenesis theory does not end here. Another supporter also came from Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek, when he found microorganisms in the straw soaking water using a microscope, this discovery strengthened the theory of abiogenesis and also his supporters said that microorganisms came from decomposed straw. However, Leeuwenhoek denied this and argued that these microorganisms came from the air.

The development of the theory of abiogenesis continued to grow until the emergence of the modern theory of abiogenesis which was coined by Oparin and also Haldani in the 1920s. There is a difference between spontaneous generation or classical abiogenesis. We can see this difference when modern abiogenesis explains the origin of life phenomena. While classical abiogenesis emphasizes more on how certain animals or plants can appear routinely without going through the process of reproduction. We can also see the difference between the two theories in terms of mechanism, where modern abiogenesis is based on modern biochemical knowledge, while classical abiogenesis is based on classical concepts in the form of material principles, movement principles, and also spirit principles, as we have discussed above.

Abiogenesis Theory Broken

Not a few who want to break and do not believe in the basis of this theory of abiogenesis since this theory was coined. Francesco Redi has started efforts to disprove the theory of abiogenesis by conducting experiments using meat. The meat was put into two jars, one of which was left open, while the other was closed. After a few days, larvae appeared in the meat that was in the open jar.

From this, Redi concluded that the larvae in the meat came from flies that entered the jar. Apart from that, he also did the same experiment, only modifying the lid of the jar by using gauze. This is so that air can get into the jar, while the other jars are closed tightly. The result is that the meat still rots but no larvae are found in the meat.

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In 1768, Lazzaro Spallanzani repeated John Needham’s experiment. He heated the broth then placed it into 2 containers. One of the containers used is left open, while the other container is closed tightly. After a few days, the broth in the open vessel turned cloudy and gave off an unpleasant odor. Meanwhile, the broth in a closed container remains clear. This experiment proved that organisms did not come from inanimate objects but came from other living things.

Even so, the theory of abiogenesis persisted, until finally Louis Pasteur, a biochemist from France, attempted to perfect the experiments conducted by Spallanzani. Pasteur modified the container used by using a long-necked flask. He did this to find out other indicators related to the flask tube with the air outside. After waiting a few days, the result was that the broth remained clear, but at the end of the neck of the tube a lot of dust and dirt had gathered. Then in the open tube, the broth contains lots of microorganisms.

From the results of trials conducted by Louis Pasteur, this theory of abiogenesis was broken which resulted in a new theory, namely:

1. Omne vivum ex ovo which means all living things come from eggs.
2. Omne ovum ex vivo which means all eggs come from living things.
3. Omne vivum ex vivo which means that all living things come from other living things.

Advantages and Weaknesses of the Abiogenesis Theory

Each theory that emerges will certainly have its own advantages and disadvantages. Likewise with this theory of abiogenesis. Based on several experiments conducted by previous experts, many thought that this theory was too naive, even though it was supported by previous experiments. The following are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the abiogenesis theory, including:

1. Advantages of the Abiogenesis Theory

Based on the research that has been done, the theory of abiogenesis actually has several advantages, because it provides the basic idea for the emergence of the aparin theory or naturalistic theory. This theory states that the origin of life is biochemical, to be precise, living things emerged abiotically. Without this research, there would be no Oparin Theory developed.

2. Weaknesses of the Abiogenesis Theory

As with other theories in other fields of science, this theory also has weaknesses. These weaknesses, namely the examples mentioned and explained, then carried out research by previous experts were considered too naive. The examples given are considered unable to support the theoretical propositions given. In addition, researchers at that time also did not see any small material such as bacteria or worm eggs, which actually is the beginning of the emergence of this life.

That is the explanation of the theory of abiogenesis put forward by some experts regarding the beginning of life in this world. Even though this theory has not been proven correct, studying and understanding the various theories that might support the occurrence of life on Earth will provide more knowledge.

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