Difference Between Abiogenesis and Biogenesis

Main Difference – Abiogenesis vs Biogenesis

Origin of life on earth has been a controversial topic for a long time. Abiogenesis and biogenesis are two philosophies that describe the origin of life on earth.  Abiogenesis describes the origination of life from non-living things while biogenesis describes the origination of life from pre-existing living forms. Abiogenesis is also called spontaneous generation hypothesis. It is one of the most widely accepted phenomena about the origination of life. The main difference between abiogenesis and biogenesis is that abiogenesis has not been proved by scientific experiments whereas biogenesis has been proved by the scientific experiments. Thus, biogenesis is the currently accepted phenomenon on the origination of life.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Abiogenesis
     – Definition, Phenomenon, Examples
2. What is Biogenesis
     – Definition, Phenomenon, Examples
3. What are the Similarities Between Abiogenesis and Biogenesis
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Abiogenesis and Biogenesis
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Abiogenesis, Biogenesis, Miller-Urey Experiment, Origination of Life, Pasteur’s Experiment, Primordial Soup, Spontaneous Generation Hypothesis

Difference Between Abiogenesis and Biogenesis - Comparison Summary

What is Abiogenesis

Abiogenesis refers to a theory on the origin of life, which states that life originated from inorganic or inanimate substances. Even after Darwin’s focus on the origin of species, some scientists tried to describe the evolution by means of abiogenesis.

“Primordial Soup” Hypothesis (1924)

A Russian biochemist named Alexander Oparin suggested that life on earth gradually originated from non-living substances through a sequence of chemical reactions. The atmospheric gases of the primitive earth were induced by lightning and other sources of energy to react with each other, forming simple organic compounds (monomers). These compounds accumulated in the “primordial soup” with high concentrations at some points such as oceanic vents and shorelines. Subsequent self-assembling of these simple organic compounds formed the complex organic compounds (polymers) such as carbohydrates and proteins. These, in turn, might organize into living cells by themselves.

Difference Between Abiogenesis and Biogenesis_Figure 1

Figure 1: Alexander Oparin (right) in his lab

Miller-Urey Experiment (1953)

Stanley Miller and Harold Urey conducted an experiment, attempting to simulate the conditions of the primitive earth atmosphere. At the bottom of a flask, water was boiled into vapor, and then the vapor was passed through an apparatus, combining with hydrogen, ammonia, and methane gases. The resultant mixture was subjected to a 50,000 Volt spark. Then the mixture was cooled, and the resulting tar-like substance was collected. They found building blocks of life such as amino acids in the tar-like substance.

Difference Between Abiogenesis and Biogenesis

Figure 2: Miller-Urey Experiment

This experiment demonstrated how organic compounds have formed spontaneously; thereby, it strongly supports the primordial soup hypothesis of the Oparin. But, the oxygen gas presented in the primordial earth might prevent the formation of organic compounds. But, in the 1950s, scientists believed that primordial earth had a very little oxygen. However, geological evidence suggests that substantial quantities of oxygen were present in the early atmosphere. Thus, if the gases were used in the correct proportions as the early atmosphere, amino acids might not form in the flask.

What is Biogenesis

Biogenesis refers to a theory on the origin of life, describing that life originated from pre-existing living matter. This concept was first described by Louis Pasteur. He encompassed that living things can only come from pre-existing living things by means of reproduction. The theory is summarized in the phrase Omne vivum ex vivo, Latin for “all life [is] from life.”  This statement is one of the key statements of the cell theory.

Pasteur’s Experiment (1864)

Louis Pasteur performed an experiment that was similar to Needham and Spallanzani, demonstrating the emergence of bacteria in a nutrient broth. Broths were kept in vessels with swan neck ducts and were boiled to sterilize. The bacterial growth could be only observed in the vessels with a broken neck. Thus, the bacterial growth could be due to the contamination.

Main Difference - Abiogenesis vs Biogenesis

Figure 3: Pasteur’s Experiment

Since it is scientifically proved, biogenesis is the widely accepted phenomenon of origin of life on earth from past 150 years.

Similarities Between Abiogenesis and Biogenesis

  • Both abiogenesis and biogenesis are philosophies that describe the origination of life on earth.
  • Both abiogenesis and biogenesis were talked over for a long period of time.

Difference Between Abiogenesis and Biogenesis

Definition

Abiogenesis: Abiogenesis refers to a theory on the origin of life, describing that the life originated from inorganic or inanimate substances.

Biogenesis: Biogenesis refers to a theory on the origin of life, describing that the life originated from pre-existing living matter.

Proposed by

Abiogenesis: Abiogenesis was proposed by Alexander Oparin, Stanley Miller, and Harold Urey.

Biogenesis: Biogenesis was proposed by the cell theory of Theodore Schwann, Matthias Schleiden, and Rudolf Virchow.

Significance

Abiogenesis: Abiogenesis states that the life on earth is originated from non-living compounds.

Biogenesis: Biogenesis states that the life on earth is originated from the pre-existing living forms.

Scientific Evidence

Abiogenesis: Abiogenesis is not scientifically proved.

Biogenesis: Biogenesis is proved by scientific experiments.

Based on

Abiogenesis: Abiogenesis is based on observations and national thoughts.

Biogenesis: Biogenesis is based on practical experiments and material evidence.

Conclusion

Abiogenesis and biogenesis are two phenomena that describe the origin of life on earth. Abiogenesis describes that life originated from the non-living substances. However, biogenesis describes that life originated from pre-existing living organisms by means of reproduction. The main difference between abiogenesis and biogenesis is the origination of life in each phenomenon.

Reference:

1.“Abiogenesis.” AllAboutScience.org, Available here.
2.“The Theory of Biogenesis & Louis Pasteur: Definition & Development.” Bright Hub, 6 Mar. 2017, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Aleksandr Oparin and Andrei Kursanov in enzymology laboratory 1938” (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Miller-Urey experiment-en” By GYassineMrabetTalk✉This vector image was created with Inkscape.iThe source code of this SVG is valid. – Own work from Image:MUexperiment.png (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
3. “OSC Microbio 03 01 Pasteur” By CNX OpenStax (CC BY 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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