Believe it or not

By Dr Don Batten

Abiogenesis, “first cell”, even more impossible


The idea of a first cell making itself is having a rocky time, so much so that many evolutionists want to evict the origin of life from being part of evolution, although the concept is widely called 'chemical evolution'. Darwin could perhaps be excused for thinking that life was simple and could arise by chance, but that is no longer a viable idea.

In 2006 the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville published that the minimum genome consists of 387 protein-coding and 43 RNA-coding genes.

Now researchers at Stanford University have studied the common fresh-water bacterium Caulobacter crescentus, disrupting the functioning of the DNA by randomly inserting one extra piece of synthetic DNA per cell, to see which parts are essential for life. The mutated cells were multiplied and then the locations of the synthetic DNA pieces in living cells were identified as being the non-essential parts of the bacterial DNA. The method is very efficient.

"This work addresses a fundamental question in biology: What is essential for life?" said Dr Beat Christen. "We came up with a method to identify all the parts of the genome required for life."

Just 12% of the DNA was essential under the protected lab conditions. That might not seem like much, but it amounts to 492,941 base pairs ('letters') and includes 480 protein-coding genes, plus other essential control sequences and parts for which the function is not yet known.

So, this study suggests that well over 500 essential genes and control sequences are necessary for free-living life. But even one average gene is beyond the reach of random combinations of nucleotides ('letters'). If it were possible, the materialistic origin of life from chemicals has became even 'more impossible'.


Absolute minimum, Nature 439, 246–247, 19 January 2006.

Essential genes of a minimal bacterium, Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 103(2):425–430, 2006.

New method reveals parts of bacterium genome essential to life;, 30 August 2011.

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