Similar to the primordial soup concept, this is another theory that states that the early life may have formed on the surface of iron sulphide minerals.
Günter Wächtershäuser proposed that the early life – an organism – originated in a volcanic hydrothermal flow at high pressure and high (100 °C) temperature. Theory states that the hydrothermal vents are a unique productive sphere of the ocean floor. They rely on chemical energy from geothermal vents to sustain a complex range of organisms.
Formation of cell:
The high temperature vents and cool sea water produce the gasses and bacteria would have grown in this environment. All chemical compounds present then would have produced pyrite (FeS2). Pyrite was abundant in early earth oceans. Then other simple compounds would have accumulated and reacted with pyrite. The system could evolve by producing self catalysing cycles. Accumulation of lipids on the pyrite could have eventually formed an enclosed membrane and evolved into the first primitive cell.
Acetic acid plays a special role in Wächtershäuser’s theory because acetic acid is part of the citric acid cycle that is fundamental to cellular metabolism.
There are critiques to this theory and as we go further we will see more about them.