In a recent paper, collaborator Kepa Ruiz-Mirazo together with two of his former PhD students pose three challenges for origin of life research. In particular, they argue that “conceiving the process of biogenesis as the evolutionary development of highly dynamic and integrated protocell populations provides the most appropriate framework to address the difficult problem of how prebiotic chemistry bridged the gap to full-fledged living organisms on the early Earth.” The authors explicitly advocate “taking dynamic, functionally integrated protocell systems (rather than complex reaction networks in bulk solution, sets of artificially evolvable replicating molecules, or even these same replicating molecules encapsulated in passive compartments) as the proper units of prebiotic evolution.”
Their article was published earlier this year in the Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry.
B. Shirt-Ediss, S. Murillo-Sánchez and K. Ruiz-Mirazo. Framing major prebiotic transitions as stages of protocell development: three challenges for origins-of-life research. Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry 13: 1388-1395, 2017.