Eloi Camprubí-Casas


I’m interested in the origins of proto-metabolism (metabolic networks before the advent of complex organic catalysis) as a way of bridging the gap between geochemistry and primitive biochemistry. Particularly, my research focuses on the role of acetyl phosphate as a precursor to ATP as a primordial energy coupling molecule; acetyl phosphate phosphorylates (activates) sugars and other monomers and can potentially promote their polymerisation. I study the abiotic synthesis of sugars (from formaldehyde via the formose reaction) as precursors to intermediary metabolism and also as key components of nucleotide synthesis. The addition of acetyl phosphate to the formose reaction favours the accumulation of ribose; this effect could have foreshadowed the chemical selection of ribose as one of the most important biological sugars. My interest in prebiotic chemistry has also led me to study the plausibility of Fe(Ni)S minerals as catalysts of non-enzymatic acetyl CoA pathway and reverse TCA cycle, by tapping into the natural proton gradients present at Hadean alkaline hydrothermal vents.


An origin of life simulator in order to mimic the emergence of proto-metabolism in the far-from-equilibrium conditions of Hadean Earth