The Origin of Membrane Bioenergetics

Condensed Matter journal club

The Origin of Membrane Bioenergetics

  • Event time: 11:30am
  • Event date: 6th February 2015
  • Speaker: Toby Samuels (Formerly School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Edinburgh)
  • Location: Room 2511,

Event details


Harnessing energy as ion gradients across membranes is as universal as the genetic code. We leverage new insights into anaerobe metabolism to propose geochemical origins that account for the ubiquity of chemiosmotic coupling, and Na+/H+ transporters in particular. Natural proton gradients acting across thin FeS walls within alkaline hydrothermal vents could drive carbon assimilation, leading to the emergence of protocells within vent pores. Protocell membranes that were initially leaky would eventually become less permeable, forcing cells dependent on natural H+ gradients to pump Na+ ions. Our hypothesis accounts for the Na+/H+ promiscuity of bioenergetic proteins, as well as the deep divergence between bacteria and archaea.
Cell 151 pages 1406-1416 (2012)
pdf version


Nick Lane, William F Martin

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Given the diversity of research in the CM group, chosen topics vary widely. We tend to stick to high-impact journals - Nature, Science, PNAS and PRL have been popular - but this is not prescriptive..

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