The microsphere hypothesis attempts to resolve the aspect of formation of molecules with enzymatic activity and thus the evolution of primitive metabolism. Heating a mixture of aminoacids in anhydrous medium leads to their condensation into an irregular polymer, a proteinoid, which has random sequence and only reflects the contents of the individual aminoacids in the original mixture. Following dissolution in water, these proteinoids form tiny, spherical, sometimes hollow species, microspheres (Muller-Herold & Nickel 1994) (Fig. X.3). Microspheres do not exhibit properties such as growth and reproduction and are not separated from the environment by a membrane. However, it has been demonstrated that they exhibit a number of kinds of catalytic activity (Fig. X.4). The formation of proteinoids is an approximation to a possible mechanism of the formation of the first enzymes and thus the first building blocks of future metabolism; however, it tells us very little about the mechanism of formation of systems capable of biological evolution.

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The classical Darwinian theory of evolution can explain the evolution of adaptive traits only in asexual organisms. The frozen plasticity theory is much more general: It can also explain the origin and evolution of adaptive traits in both asexual and sexual organisms Read more