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Günter Wächtershäuser

Günter Wächtershäuser, a chemist turned patent lawyer, is mainly known for his groundbreaking and influential work on the origin of life, and in particular his iron-sulfur world theory, a theory that life on Earth had hydrothermal origins. The theory is consistent with the hypothesis that life originated near seafloor hydrothermal vents.


Biographical background

Dr Wächtershäuser, a chemist by training, has been an international patent lawyer in Munich since 1970. He has published numerous articles in organic chemistry, genetic engineering and patent law, and has made at least two significant contributions to evolutionary theory: the origins of perception and cognition, and the origin of life.

"Metabolism first"

One of the key ideas advanced by Wächtershäuser is that an early form of metabolism predated genetics. Metabolism here means a cycle of chemical reactions that produce energy in a form that can be harnessed by other processes. The idea is that once a primitive metabolic cycle was established, it began to produce ever more complex compounds. His model is known as the iron-sulfur world theory by analogy with the RNA world hypothesis.


In 1993 Dr Wächtershäuser received the annual award of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and the following year he was made an honorary professor at the University of Regensburg.


  • “According to my theory, you can imagine life forms continuously, even today.”


  • G. Wächtershäuser, "Origin of Life: Life as We Don't Know It", Science, 289 (5483) (25 Aug 2000) pp. 1307-1308. [1]
  • G. Wächtershäuser, "Evolution of the First Metabolic Cycles", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol 87 (1990), 200-204 [2]
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Günter_Wächtershäuser". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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