The main difference between spontaneous generation and biogenesis is that the spontaneous generation is a hypothesis that describes the origin of life from non-living things whereas the biogenesis is a hypothesis that describes the origination of life from pre-existing forms of life. Furthermore, spontaneous generation or abiogenesis has not been proved by scientific experiments while biogenesis has been proven by scientific experiments.
Spontaneous generation and biogenesis are two hypotheses that describe the origin of life. Due to the scientific background of biogenesis, it is the most widely accepted phenomenon for the origination of life.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Spontaneous Generation
– Definition, Hypotheses, Evidence
2. What is Biogenesis
– Definition, Scientific Experiments
3. What are the Similarities Between Spontaneous Generation and Biogenesis
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Spontaneous Generation and Biogenesis
– Comparison of Key Differences
Aristotelian Abiogenesis, Biogenesis, Origin of Life, Pasteur’s Experiment, Spallanzani’s Experiment, Spontaneous Generation
What is Spontaneous Generation
Spontaneous generation is one of the theories built to describe the origin of life. It states that life originated from inorganic or inanimate materials. Spontaneous generation is also called Aristotelian abiogenesis due to its ancient Greek proponent. The belief of spontaneous generation first evolved due to the invisibility and stealth of some organisms such as mice, flies, and bacteria. In 1668, Francesco Redi hypothesized macroscopic spontaneous generation with the observation of the growth of maggots in rotting meat. But, with the invention of the microscope in the 18th century, this credibility was eroded since people could see fly eggs as well as bacteria through microscopes.
It is considered that the earth was formed 4.54 million years ago. The earliest, undisputed evidence of life on earth are microbial mat fossils discovered from a 3.48 million years old sandstone in Western Australia. Some studies state that the origination of life on earth started even before 4.25 million years.
With the assumption that the life spontaneously originated on earth, Miller–Urey experiment and similar experiments attempted to demonstrate the formation of basic chemicals of life such as amino acids in similar conditions to the early earth. Lightning and radiation provided energy for these chemical reactions. Another hypothesis, the ‘metabolism first’ hypothesis, focuses on the catalysis of chemical reactions, which are considered to provide the precursor molecules required by self-replication.
What is Biogenesis
Biogenesis is another hypothesis that describes the origin of life on earth, stating that life forms produce new life forms. Lazzaro Spallanzani was the first person to disprove spontaneous generation. In 1767, he proved that microorganisms can be killed by boiling. He boiled meat in a sealed container and this broth did not show bacterial growth subsequently. In 1864, Louis Pasteur disproved the spontaneous generation with a series of experiments similar to that of Spallanzani. He demonstrated that life does not arise in areas that have not been contaminated by existing life. Pasteur’s experiment is described below.
Biogenesis is the widely accepted hypothesis for the origin of life since it can always be proved by scientific experiments.
Similarities Between Spontaneous Generation and Biogenesis
- Abiogenesis and biogenesis are two hypotheses that try to describe the origin of life on earth.
Difference Between Spontaneous Generation and Biogenesis
Abiogenesis refers to the supposed production of living organisms from non-living matter, as inferred from the apparent appearance of life in some supposedly sterile environments. Biogenesis refers to the hypothesis that living matter arises only from other living matter. This indicates the difference between spontaneous generation and abiogenesis.
Some of the proponents of spontaneous generation were Francesco Redi, Alexander Oparin, Stanley Miller, and Harold Urey while some of the proponents of biogenesis were William Harvey, Theodore Schwann, Lazzaro Spallanzani, John Needham, and Louis Pasteur.
Spontaneous generation states that life on earth has originated from non-living compounds while biogenesis states that life on earth originated from the pre-existing living forms.
Spontaneous generation has not been scientifically proved while biogenesis has been proved by scientific experiments.
Spontaneous generation is based on observations and rational thoughts while biogenesis is based on practical experiments and material evidence. This another important difference between spontaneous generation and abiogenesis.
Spontaneous generation states that life on earth originated from non-living things while biogenesis states that life on earth originated from pre-existing living things. This is the main difference between spontaneous generation and abiogenesis.
1. “Champagne vent white smokers” By NOAA – (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Stromatolites” By P. Carrara, NPS – National Park Service – http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/cfprojects/photodb/Photo_Detail.cfm?PhotoID=204 (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
3. “Pasteur’s experiment testing spontaneous generation and biogenesis” By Thebiologyprimer – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia