Astrobiology : An Evolutionary Approach book cover
1st Edition

An Evolutionary Approach

Edited By

Vera M. Kolb

ISBN 9781466584617
Published August 22, 2014 by CRC Press
504 Pages 167 Color & 167 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Astrobiology: An Evolutionary Approach provides a full course in astrobiology with an emphasis on abiogenesis and evolution. The book presents astrobiology both as a developing science and as the science of the future.

The origins of life and the possibility of life elsewhere continues to be a subject of scientific and philosophical examination. These topics evolve with time as our understanding of life itself and the laws of chemical and biological evolution evolve. Astrobiology: An Evolutionary Approach aims both to provide a foundation in astrobiology and to describe the most challenging questions and problems in the field.

The book begins with an overview of astrobiology, the origin of elements, and the formation of the solar system, planets, and exoplanets. Other topics covered include prebiotic synthesis of biochemical compounds, transition from abiotic to biotic, microorganisms in space, the roles of silicon in life, encapsulation of organic materials in protocells, cold and dry limits of life, virolution, and more.

The contributors explore different aspects of astrobiology, reflecting the exciting journeys of their own research. This book will inspire students to explore the endless possibilities in astrobiology. The book includes end-of-chapter questions, a glossary of terms, and recommended references, making it ideal for use as a classroom text.

Table of Contents

Astrobiology: An Overview; Aaron David Goldman

Origin of Elements and Formation of Solar System, Planets, and Exoplanets; Ken Rice

Astrobiology Education and Public Outreach; Timothy F. Slater

Analysis of Extraterrestrial Organic Matter in Murchison Meteorite: A Progress Report; Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin, Mourad Harir, Basem Kanawati, Régis Gougeon, Franco Moritz, Norbert Hertkorn, Sonny Clary, Istvan Gebefügi,and Zelimir Gabelica

Prebiotic Synthesis of Biochemical Compounds: An Overview; Henderson James (Jim) Cleaves

Biochemical Pathways as Evidence for Prebiotic Syntheses; Gene D. McDonald

Roles of Silicon in Life on Earth and Elsewhere; Joseph B. Lambert and Senthil Andavan Gurusamy-Thangavelu

Fossil Records for Early Life on Earth; David Wacey

Prebiotic Chemistry: In Water and in the Solid State; Vera M. Kolb

Encapsulation of Organic Materials in Protocells; Erica A. Frankel, Daniel C. Dewey, and Christine D. Keating

Role of Phosphorus in Prebiotic Chemistry; Matthew Pasek

Cold and Dry Limits of Life; Christopher P. McKay, Alfonso F. Davila, and Henry J. Sun

Microorganisms in Space; Gerda Horneck and Ralf Moeller

Search for Life on Mars: An Astrogeological Approach; Jesús Martínez-Frías

Elusive Definition of Life: A Survey of Main Ideas; Radu Popa

Language and Communication as Universal Requirements for Life; Guenther Witzany

Transition from Abiotic to Biotic: Is There an Algorithm for It?; Sara Imari Walker

Extraterrestrial Life: What Are We Looking For?; Dirk Schulze-Makuch, Louis N. Irwin, and Alberto G. Fairén

Evolutionary Approach to Viruses in Astrobiology; Matti Jalasvuori and Jaana K.H. Bamford

Virolution Can Help Us Understand the Origin of Life; Luis P. Villarreal

Can Virolution Help Us Understand Recent Human Evolution?; Luis P. Villarreal


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Vera M. Kolb is a chemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin–Parkside. She earned an MS in organic chemistry from Belgrade University and a PhD in organic chemistry from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Dr. Kolb received her training in exobiology (now known as astrobiology) at the NASA Specialized Center of Research and Training in San Diego. She has received the Phi Delta Kappa Outstanding Educator Award and has also been inducted into the Southeastern Wisconsin Educators’ Hall of Fame. Dr. Kolb is a recipient of numerous grants from the Wisconsin Space Consortium/NASA and has published more than 150 articles in organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, and astrobiology.


"Professor Kolb brings us a refreshing set of chapters that provide an update on some of the most fascinating areas of astrobiology, including the origin of life, the search for habitable exoplanets, extremophiles, and the place of viruses in astrobiology. The diversity of chapters and information makes this an excellent read for those new to the field or those seeking new ideas."
—Charles Cockell, The University of Edinburgh

"A broad-ranging volume covering many different aspects of astrobiology, with engaging chapters containing up-to-date reviews by leading authors. Very accessibly written, suitable for senior undergraduate and graduate students. Each chapter finishes with a helpful glossary of terms, reflecting the strongly interdisciplinary subject matter, and useful review questions that could be used in seminar-based teaching. Overall a great astrobiology education resource."
—Nicola McLoughlin, University of Bergen, Norway

"A really comprehensive and unifying book, which will prove useful and enlightening not only to astrobiologists and evolutionary biologists, but also to anyone interested in life emergence and evolution in the Universe."
—Professor Rolando Cardenas, Head of Planetary Science Laboratory, Universidad Central "Marta Abreu" de Las Villas