Humic first, A new theory on the origin of life

Geophysical Research Abstracts

Vol. 18, EGU2016-11714, 2016

EGU General Assembly 2016

© Author(s) 2016. CC Attribution 3.0 License.


Humic first, A new theory on the origin of life


Mohammad Ali Daei (1) and Manijeh Daei (2)

(1) Iran, Islamic Republic Of (, (2) Iran, Islamic Republic Of (





1- Mohammad Ali Daei ( General practitioner, Researcher in biology

2- Manijeh Daei ( Soil science researcher


In 1953, Miller & Urey through a brilliant experiment demonstrated that the building blocks of life could evolve in primitive earth conditions1. In recent years scientists revealed that organic matters are not very rare compounds in comets, asteroids, and meteorites2. These facts show simple organic molecules on early earth could be quite enough to start development of life. But, how? Many theorists have tried to explain how life emerged from non life, but failed2. There is a huge gap between the simple building blocks, like amino acid, sugar, and lipid molecules, to a living cell with a very sophisticated structure and organization. Obviously, creation of a cell needed a qualified production line which had to be durable and active, can gather all biochemical ingredients, protect them from degradation, have catalyzing ability, provide numerous opportunities for interaction between basic molecules, and above all, have capability to react to different sources of energy. We are sure this perfect factory was available on primitive earth and is nothing except humic substance! At the moment, HS, are doing nearly all of these duties, among the others, under your feet in agricultural soils4.

What are humic substances? According to IHSS definition “Humic substances (HS) are major components of the natural organic matter (NOM) in soil and water as well as in geological organic deposits such as lake sediments, peats, brown coals, and shales5.” They come from polymerization of organic molecules, but looking at them like a simple aggregation of different organic molecules, is a huge mistake6! It seems they do not come together except for making a capable structure! HS are the first organic machinery which appeared in proplanetary disk, more than four billion years ago. Derived from simple inorganic molecules, humic substances construct a firm intermediate structure which connects none life to life. In other word, life road pass over the humic bridge. This does not mean that necessarily they had extra terrestrial origin. In fact Ziechman et al7, in 1994 by finding humic material in Miller’s experimental vessels proved that humic substances could be generate on early earth conditions by polymerizing simple organic molecules.

Which evidences support our Ideas?

1- Suppose a wet land located in a warm area of primitive earth, covered with a layer of black humic materials, ready to action and reaction. Under this umbrella, basic molecules of life can interact freely and benefit from catalyzing and stimulating effects of HS. Amino and nucleic acid molecules may line up, grow, and develop mutually. Protein molecules can appear and do practices and before decaying a strand of nucleotides is ready to save their information and can rebuilt them for further practices. Thus, chemical evolution on a bed of humic acid can promote targeted, firmly and continuously towards a large network that be able to support a self replicating cell! We deliberately suggested, land and not the sea, as cradle of life. Because sodium, the most prevalent cation in oceans could not participate in primitive life, instead potassium played an important role.

2- There are strong evidences that show HS, really acted as the main elemental selector and even chairal selector for life on early earth. HS, show strong affinity and fast releasing tendency for macro nutrients (N, P, K). There is moderate affinity and releasing tendency for Ca, Mg, S. Also there is weak affinity and reluctance for liberating micronutrients. More interesting, HS generate insoluble compounds with nearly all toxic elements. As you see not only HS selected some and rejected other elements but also definite their proportions in the cell structure.

3- What is the reason of homochairality in living organism? As you know, none of previous theories in this field provided an easy explanation for this difficult and fundamental question. But, humic theory has a simple answer.

Humic substances accepted some and rejected the other enantiomers, because their spatial structure dictate, as did so regarding elemental selection.



1- Miller, Stanly L. “production of amino acid under possible primitive Earth conditions” Science 117:528. (may 1953)

2- Encyclopedia Britannica website “carbonaceous contrite” October 17, 2014

3- Shapiro, Robert “A simpler origin for life” Science American February 12, 2007

4- Pettit, Robert, “organic matter, humus, humate, humic acid, fulvic acid humin: their importance in soil fertility and plant health”

5- International Humic Substances Society website, “What are humic substances”

6- Humic, Fulvic and microbial balance: organic soil conditioning, by William R. Jackson 1993, pag 165-167

7- Steinberg, Christian E.W “Ecology of humic substances in freshwater-determination from geochemistry to ecological niches” (2003)