What are microspheres and coacervates?

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What are microspheres and coacervates?

Post by tou » Mon May 04, 2009 3:09 pm


I know that living cells were probably preceded by protobionts, which had an internal chemistry differnt from the external chemistry. Now what are microspheres and coacervates? Are they some form of early membranes? How are they related, how do they differ and what is their role in protobionts?

Thanks a lot!

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Re: What are microspheres and coacervates?

Post by skeptic » Tue May 05, 2009 9:20 am

Microspheres and coacervates are possible contenders for the basis of the first primitive cells.

In this context, a microsphere is made by amino acids joining under heat to form short peptide chains. When the water, in which they are suspended, dries out, the peptides often form into tiny spheres.

A coacervate is a similar tiny sphere, but formed from fatty acids in solution.

Both microspheres and coacervates form due entirely to chemical processes. No life is required. This makes them possible contenders in the formation of the first precursor to true life as structures to enclose the earliest protocell.

Note that the word microsphere has many meanings, including lots of different meanings in sciences other than biology.

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Re: What are microspheres and coacervates?

Post by GaryGaulin » Tue May 05, 2009 11:26 am

Hi tou,

I have a video showing moving coacervates that I made with red cabbage indicator and egg yolk. It seemed like a good thing to try together and it worked great.


I suspect that the light might be activating the cabbage pigment to make them move, but would love to know more about what powers them.

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