The primary interest in our laboratory concerns the role of phosphorus (P) in abiogenesis, the origins of life on earth. Phosphorus is central to contemporary biochemistry (e.g. in DNA, RNA, cell membranes, ATP) but significant problems remain as to how nature could have incorporated P into the earliest forms of life on earth.
We are exploring the emergence of P-driven biochemistry with specific focus on how proto-bioenergetics could have evolved to exploit condensed polyphosphates such as ATP. ATP is a ubiquitous biological energy currency in modern metabolism but recent experiments in our lab have shown that simpler phosphorus chemicals, resulting from the anaerobic corrosion of meteorites may have been available and functional ancestors as an energy currency to kick-start the first coupled chemical cycles and perhaps even cell formation on the early earth.
Our work is highly collaborative and cross-disciplinary incorporating studies in meteoritics, corrosion electrochemistry, systems chemistry, bioenergetics, membrane science, computational modelling and high-energy geochemistry.