The Origins of Life Initiative supports multi-disciplinary research aimed at revealing if life is abundant in the Universe. We seek to understand how the initial conditions on planets, including our own Earth and planets around other stars, dictated the origins of life and its subsequent evolution. Using this knowledge, it will eventually be possible to study the atmospheres of far distant planets for signs of life, including planets that might be Earth twins.

Latest News

Getting to the source - Researchers describe microbe that ‘eats’ electricity

March 11, 2014

Led by Peter Girguis, the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences, and Arpita Bose, a postdoctoral fellow in organismic and evolutionary biology, a team of researchers has demonstrated that the bacterium Rhodopseudomonas palustris can use natural conductivity to pull electrons from minerals located deep in soil and sediment while remaining at the surface, where it absorbs the sunlight needed to produce energy.
Read the Harvard Gazette article.

Negative plus - Researchers strengthen continuous protein evolution system

February 25, 2014

Led by David Liu, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, a team of Harvard researchers recently developed the first system for enabling proteins to evolve continuously in the laboratory, without researcher intervention. That system, called PACE (phage-assisted continuous evolution), allowed for protein evolution to take place approximately 100 times faster than previously possible.

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