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Joint CO world & 12th ELSI Symposium


8 gen 2024

A Joint Symposium of the Earth-Life Science Institute and CO world Project

We are proud to announce that Donato Giovannelli from the University of Napoli, member of the Directive Commite of the Italian Society of Astrobiology, will be a speaker on the 4th day of the Joint CO world & 12th ELSI Symposium, specifically presenting from 14:30 to 15:00 on Friday 12 January (Day 4) The topic of his presentation is "Trace metals availability and the Evolution of biogeochemistry."

Below you may find more information regarding the Event.


Dates: Tuesday-Friday, 9-12 January 2024 (See below for detailed schedule)

Location: Earth-Life Science Institute and Digital Hall, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Ookayama Campus, Meguro, Tokyo, Japan (See below for detailed map)

Scientific Organizing Committee: Yuichiro Ueno (Chair), John Hernlund (Co-Chair), Eric Smith, Tony Jia, Yamei Li

Local Organizing Committee: Ryuhei Nakamura (Chair), Hidenori Genda, Harumi Tanaka, Shio Watanabe, Hiromi Daimon

Abstract of the Symposium: The search for biosignatures in deep time and space is fundamentally rooted in our desire to understand where we came from, and to discover our place in the universe. The Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) and the CO world Project (CWP) have taken the opportunity to hold a joint symposium in January 2024 to bring together our colleagues from Japan and around the world to delve into this topic and share the latest cutting edge work on this big topic.


Tuesday 9 January (Day 1, Chair: Hernlund)
  • 9:30-11:30 Optional Activity: Informal Coffee, Meet and Greet (Location: ELSI-1 2nd floor Agora)

  • 10:00 Optional Activity: Tour of ELSI facilities (Departs from ELSI-1 2nd floor Agora)

  • 13:30-14:00 Registration and Coffee (Location: Digital Hall)

  • 14:00-14:15 Session 0: Introduction to the Symposium (Location: Digital Hall)

14:00-14:05 Welcome from the ELSI Director (Yasuhito Sekine)

14:05-14:15 Welcome from CO World Project Leader (Yuichiro Ueno)

  • 14:15-15:15 Oral Session 1 (Location: Digital Hall)

14:15-14:45 Paul Falkowski (Rutgers University) 

"The origins of metabolism; the power supply for life"

14:45-15:15 Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy (Scripps)

"Prebiotic Phosphorylation in the Context of Chemical Evolution"

  • 15:15-15:40 Coffee break

  • 15:40-17:00 Oral Session 2 (Location: Digital Hall)

15:40-16:10 Shaunna Morrison (Carnegie Institute)

"New frontiers in mineralogy: Data-driven exploration of Earth and planetary systems and their coevolution with life"

16:10-16:40 Maggie Lau (Institute of Deep-Sea Science and Engineering, CAS)

"Diversity and redox-coupling of dsrAB-gene-defined anaerobic sulfur-oxidizing prokaryotes in deep sea environments"

16:40-17:00 Discussion

  • 17:00 Closing of Day 1

Wednesday 10 January (Day 2, Chair: Ueno)
  • 9:00-11:30 Oral Session 3 (Location: Digital Hall)

9:00-9:25 Yuichiro Ueno (Tokyo Tech, ELSI) 

"How to initiate protometabolism?: Insight from early Earth and Mars geochemistry"

9:25-9:55 Joseph Moran (ISIS, Univ. Strasbourg, Univ. Ottawa)

"Catalysis and feedback effects in a nonenzymatic protometabolism"

9:55-10:25 Nino Lauber (Univ. Vienna)

"Generating Possibility Spaces for different Chemistries with Rule Based Modeling"

10:25-10:35 Coffee break

10:35-11:05 Martina Preiner (Max Planck)

"Mineral surfaces as protoenzymes: how to connect cofactors, rock pores and heterogeneous catalysis"

11:05-11:30 Norio Kitadai (JAMSTEC)

 "The role of sulfur in the chemical evolution of life"

  • 11:30-13:30 Lunch (See Lunch Map Provided by ELSI Staff)

  • 13:30-15:00 Oral Session 4 (Location: Digital Hall)

13:30-14:00 Tsuneomi Kawasaki (Tokyo Univ. Science)

"Asymmetric Strecker amino acid synthesis mediated by CPL irradiation to the chiral intermediate aminonitrile."

14:00-14:30 Albert Fahrenbach  (UNSW)

"An Autocatalytic Reaction Network that Produces Nucleotide Precursors"

14:30-15:00 Discussion: How to initiate geometabolism?

  • 15:00-15:20 Coffee Break

  • 15:20-17:00 Oral Session 5

15:20-15:45 Shino Suzuki (JAXA/Riken)

"Early CO metabolisms and its link to geometabolism"

15:45-16:10 Takashi Fujishiro (Saitama Univ.)

"Insights into structural evolution of Ni,Fe-CO dehydrogenases and hybrid cluster proteins"

16:10-16:40 Sota Yagi (RIKEN)

"Experimental reconstruction of the evolutionary pathway bridging central dogma machinery via a missing-link fold"

16:40-17:00 Discussion: Role of CO and connection to biology

  • 17:00 Closing of Day 2

Thursday 11 January (Day 3, Chairs: Smith & Longo)
  • 9:00-11:30 Oral Session 6 (Location: Digital Hall)

9:00-9:15 Eric Smith (ELSI)

"From small molecules to molecular machines: the emergence of folded matter and the eras of molecular evolution"

9:15-9:45 Loren Williams (Georgia Tech) 

         "Evolution Everywhere all at Once"

9:45-10:15 Dustin Schaeffer (UTSW)

"Proteome-scale evolutionary domain classification aided by predicted structures"

  • 10:15-10:30 Coffee Break

10:30-10:55 Luhua Lai (Peking Univ.)

"Identifying protein allosteric site based on evolutionary analysis"

10:55-11:20 Anton Petrov  (Georgia Tech)

"Translating out the history of protein folds from extant ribosomes"

11:20-11:30 Discussion

  • 11:30-13:30 Lunch (See Lunch Map Provided by ELSI Staff)

  • 13:30-15:10 Oral Session 7 (Location: Digital Hall)

13:30-13:55 Naohiro Terasaka (ELSI)

"Directed evolution of nonviral ribonucleoproteins to virus-like particles"

13:55-14:20 Kosuke Fujishima (ELSI)

"Reconstruction of active iron-sulfur cluster protein using cell-free system"

14:20-14:55 Liam Longo (ELSI)

"The βαβ Motif and the Rise of Folded Matter"

14:55-15:10 Discussion

  • 15:10-15:30 Coffee Break

  • 15:30-16:45 Oral Session 8 (Location: Digital Hall)

15:30-15:55 Emmanuel Levy (Weizmann Inst.)

"Principles of protein assembly and evolution"

15:55-16:20 Michael Lachmann (Santa Fe Institute)

"The thermodynamics of selection: How atoms learned to cooperate"

16:20-16:45 Discussion

  • 17:30-18:00 Cultural Event (Location: ELSI-1 Mishima Hall)

  • 18:00-21:00 Symposium Banquet (Location: ELSI-1 2nd Floor Agora)

Friday 12 January (Day 4, Chairs: Ueno & Hernlund)
  • 9:00-11:20 Poster session (Location: ELSI Agora)

  • 9:10-11:20 Coffee served at posters

  • 11:20-11:30 Group photos @ ELSI Agora

  • 11:30-13:30 Lunch (See Lunch Map Provided by ELSI Staff)

  • 13:30-15:00 Oral Session 9 (Location: ELSI Agora)

13:30-14:00 TBD

14:00-14:30 Wei Lin (Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences)

"Microbiological and geochemical research in high-altitude Mars analogs"

14:30-15:00 Donato Giovannelli (University of Napoli)

"Trace metals availability and the Evolution of biogeochemistry"

  • 15:00-15:15 Coffee Break

  • 15:15-16:50 Panel Discussion (Location: ELSI Agora)

  • 16:50-17:00 Closing of the Symposium (Location: ELSI)

Aftershops (Monday 15 January ---)

The Poster List:

The listed order is the submitted order as in the event's website.

  • Aaron Berliner ----- Modeling of Candidate Biosignatures in Circum-Singularity Habitability Zones

  • Yan Chen ----- Biosignature detection in fluvio-lacustrine deposits from the Mars-analog Qaidam Basin, NW China

  • Natnicha Klayposri ----- Mineral characterization of Chae Son hot spring deposits as an analogue for Columbia Hills, Mars

  • Dimitra Demertzi ----- Mineral Surfaces as Information Storages for Prebiotic Chemical Reaction Networks

  • Flavio Siro Brigiano ----- Mechanism and Free-Energy Landscape of Peptide Bond Formation at the Silica–Water Interface

  • Sean Brown ----- Xeno Amino Acids: A look into biochemistry as we don’t know it

  • Pedro Russo ----- What is the role of science journalism in the effective communication of potential life detection results?

  • Anastasia Kokori ----- Understanding exoplanets through the Solar System: Investigating the case of water on Venus through petrological modelling

  • Ellie Hara ----- Releasing cyanide from ferrocyanide by carbon monoxide ligand exchange in alkaline and hyperalkaline aqueous environments

  • Haruka Nakagawa ----- Exploring Thioesters and Thioacids in the Context of Prebiotic Chemistry: Unraveling Mysteries of Origin of Life

  • Ninos Hermis -----  TBD

  • Kenya Tajima ----- In vitro assembly of protein capsule and cargo nucleic acids into a virus-like particle

  • Yuanyuan He ----- The evolution of amino acids under simulated asteroidal aqueous alteration 

  • Taren Ginter ----- Plausible Peptide-Protocell Processes: Fatty acid membrane and peptide interactions 

  • Philip Vetter ----- Supersampling tests of phylogeny resilience, and their implication on tree-based interpretation of evolution

  • Seba Fuyutsuki ----- Ultra-violet absorption cross sections of carbon monoxide isotopes by first-principles calculations, applications to Mars atmospheric photochemistry

  • Risa Sasaki -----  Nitrogen redox reaction selectivity from a pool of 1332 options

  • Paula Prondzinsky ----- Introducing the LUNATICs: a student-led online platform providing resources for early career astrobiology research

  • Hye-Eun  Lee ----- Power Generation in Hierarchical Alkaline Hydrothermal Vents

  • Zening Yang ----- Geoelectrical Cyanogenesis by Glycine Decomposition at Alkaline Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vent 

  • Saacnicteh Toledo-Patino ----- The Role of Insertions and Deletions (InDels) in the Emergence of Early Proteins and Their Functionalities

  • Takanori Kodama ----- Climate of tidally locked exo-terrestrial planets

  • Jun Su ----- Looking for large redox reservoirs in the Earth's deep mantle

  • Joe Kirschvink ----- Evidence for Magnetotactic Bacteria at 3.47 Ga, from Black Cherts of the Barberton Greenstone Belt, South Africa

  • Riddhi Gondhalekar ----- Deciphering the origin of protein polymerases using an RNA-protein coevolution system

  • Suresh  Bansal ----- Earth Itself is a Single Giant living Organism 

  • Aileen Cooney ----- Viscous changes in synthetic cells as a tool towards novel functionalities

  • Takumi Matsunaga ----- Mapping out Earth's Core-Mantle Boundary Heat Flux with multi-seismic structures

  • Shunto Harada ----- Generating Electrochemical Proton Gradients across the Primitive Fatty Acid Vesicle under Simulated Geoelectrical Current at Hydrothermal Vents

  • Austin Taylor ----- Is there a Mixed Layer at the Top of the Outer Core?

  • Tamami Okamoto ----- Effect of different stickiness between icy and silicate particles on carbon depletion in a protoplanetary disk

  • Siddhant Sharma ----- A computational workflow for the discovery of autocatalytic networks in abiotic reactions

  • Kaustav Sen ----- Volatile Budget of Young Exoplanets in the Habitable Zone of M-Stars

  • Keiko Hamano ----- Planetary mass dependence of oxygen fugacity in a magma ocean

  • Hideshi Ooka ----- Autocatalytic Threshold to Sustain Chemical Reaction Networks in the Presence of Diffusion

  • Akira Yamaguchi ----- Synthesis of metabolic-hub compounds starting from CO2 as a reaction substrate

  • Jinfei Yu ----- Unveiling Aqueous Alteration and Thermal Metamorphism in Carbonaceous Asteroids: Insights from Four Infrared Features

  • Courteney Monchinski ----- The Icy Origins of the Martian Moons

  • Christine Houser ----- Constraints on early mantle oxidation from iron-rich regions along the core-mantle boundary

  • Shota Nishikawa ----- Bottom-up construction of a polylactate-metabolizing chemoheterotrophic system

  • Xiaofeng Zang ----- Photochemical Synthesis of amonia, amino acids and imidazole from CO and N2O

  • Koudai Taguchi ----- 13C-13C Abiomarker of hydrocarbons

  • Hayate Hirai ----- Minimal Nutritional Requirements of Diverse Microorganisms Inferred by Metabolic Network Expansion

  • Shintaro Kadoya ----- Boron cycle under Neoproterozoic snowball events: δ11B could indicate the evolution of B concentration, not ocean pH

  • Harrison Smith ----- Life detection in a universe of false positives

  • Shotaro Tagawa ----- Role of subseafloor supercritical CO2-water two-phase environment in chemical evolution

  • Tomoharu Suda ----- Chemical reaction networks from a non-autonomous viewpoint

  • Hiroya Takahashi ----- Understanding the formation mechanism of mineral alignment in hydrothermal vents: a laboratory approach to origin of life studies 

  • Kota Yanase ----- Development of a screening method to identify the peptide sequence capable of catalyzing adenylation reactions

  • Yoko Ochiai ----- Monte Carlo simulation of complex organic molecules synthesis by UV irradiation

  • Nishiki Tomizawa ----- Heterolytic N-N coupling Catalyzed by Copper Sulfide Mineral Toward Nonenzymatic Pyrimidine Nucleobase Synthesis

  • Yasuto Watanabe ----- Atmospheric methane on early Earth and inhabited Earth-like exoplanets around stars with different spectral types

  • Kazumi Ozaki ----- Relative abundances of CO2, CO, and CH4 in atmospheres of Earth-like lifeless planets

  • Kohei Morino ----- Quantitative Understanding of Nucleoside Phosphorylation in Supercritical CO2 - Water Two-Phase System

  • Yoshiaki Endo ----- A numerical analysis of Δ36S/Δ33S dependence on definitions of sulfur mass-independent fractionation: Implication for early Earth's atmosphere

  • Hayato Tazaki ----- Investigation of enzymatic thioester and thioacid formation 

  • Wancheng Zhang ----- Oriented folding of lipid bilayer regulated by proteins

  • Yuta Sato ----- Intramolecular 13C distibution of biogenic acetate from CO and CO2

  • Tetsuo Taki ----- Revisiting the greenhouse effect of non-greenhouse gases in the atmosphere of Earth-like planets

  • Shunjiro Sodei ----- A high-throughput screening system for the emergence of cofactor-peptide synergistic catalysis

  • Thilina Heenatigala ----- An Exploratory Study on Origins of Life and Public Engagement: Views from the Researchers

  • Taiyo Tamura ----- Bioinformatic Assessment on the Linear Scaling Relationship between the Binding Affinity and the Rate Constant of Enzymes 

  • Akira Tanemura ----- Production of sulfide metal chimney wall in the flow-reactor simulating ancient deep-sea alkaline hydrothermal system

  • Selene Cannelli  ----- Exploring the dynamics of Fatty Acid Vesicles with various buffers and minerals

  • Rei Abe ----- Phylogenetic distribution of genes related to non-ribosomal protein synthesis in archaea

  • Mizuki Horino ----- Laboratory evolution experiment of Cupriavidus necator H16 with semi-synthetic carbon fixation pathway 

  • Natsumi Noda ----- Effective DNA hybridization via freeze-thaw cycles and implication for prebiotic formation of large information molecules

  • Adriano Mazzini ----- The Indonesian Lusi eruption: an unprecedented opportunity to explore extremophiles and early life communities

  • Ankita Jauhari  ----- TBD

  • Anoop B S ----- Unveiling the Functional Significance of ArcB Protein in Bacterial Proteomes: Implications for Human Exoplanetary Habitability

  • Beatrice Marincioni ----- A prebiotic route towards lipids: photo-oxidation of a primeval oil slick

  • Martina  Preiner ----- Mineral surfaces as protoenzymes: how to connect cofactors, rock pores and heterogeneous catalysis

  • Eito Hirai ----- Investigation for physicochemical properties of organic materials: Toward understanding the origin and evolution of organic dunes on Titan


During 15-19 January (the week following the 12th ELSI Symposium) a series of smaller and more focused follow-up "aftershops" will be held at ELSI. All who are interested in these topics are welcome to participate. If there is sufficient interest, remote participation may be arranged for those who are not able to attend in-person. Please fill out the registration forms for any (or all) of the aftershops you are interested in attending.


Convenors: John Hernlund (ELSI) and Shaunna Morrison (Carnegie Institution)

Abstract: Life is an open system. It is both an intimate participant in, and product of, its environment. The advent of life arises from a convergence of natural processes, and its appearance in turn alters that environment in fundamental ways. In order to detect the extent of life in space-time, it is useful to consider the bigger picture of what a living environment looks like, moving beyond particular biosignatures towards more general systemic patterns and characteristics. We aim to address this question by combining perspectives from both deep space (life detection on other planets) and deep time (life detection in the ancient past).

Registration: Please fill the registration form at this link.

Plan/Schedule: To be announced.


Convenor: Yuichiro Ueno (ELSI)

Abstract: Our symposium brings together experts in numerous chemical, biological, and computational fields important for understanding protometabolism and the earliest metabolic evolution.  They have studied energy systems, catalytic environments, network topologies, the possibilities for amplification and reagent concentration (network catalysis and autocatalysis), and strategies for estimating and controlling combinatorial diversity in reactions and pathways.  A startling coherence is emerging between species and reactions that are readily realized in organic geochemistry on young, active earthlike planets, and those that are central to the biosphere.  From this starting point, and with the expertise gathered in the symposium participants, we should ask: What next?  What questions are nearest our reach that are urgent to understand.  What synergies of method are possible from expertise already developed in the community, but not yet in active collaboration?  Finally, can we see new questions from the vantage point of current results that were not recognized before?

Plan/Schedule: To be announced


Convenor: Eric Smith and Liam Longo (ELSI)

Abstract: Day 3 of our Symposium is meant to open a long-term discussion of the macromolecule stages in the origin of life and deep evolution.  It has considered the chemical context for synthesis and selection of monomers and polymers, the physical processes that underlie folding and molecular assembly, the nature of folded states as both thresholds that require information to cross, and platforms on which that information enables the evolution of most biological functions and higher-order structures.  We recognize that deep expertise has accrued in the bioinformatics and evolutionary interpretation of folds and their sub-fold motifs and themes, and the complexes they form; in the molecular dynamics and modeling of folding and folded states; and most recently in de novo design both from traditional methods and using new tools such as language models.  Expanded data, novel algorithms, and enhanced computing power continue to push the reconstructed history of folds deeper in time and lower in scale, through the major branches of the tree of life and for some features even before the Last Universal Common Ancestor of cellular lineages.  We want to know whether, when all these understandings meet, there emerges a theory of folded matter as an informationally-defined state of matter, which can be used to discriminate chance from necessity in the earliest molecular evolution, and was essential to arriving at many defining features of life.  Going forward, what are the most interesting questions not yet being pursued?  Are there ways we can further support the integration of the deep but diverse viewpoints that make up our current understanding of folded matter, to discover its most fundamental organizing concepts?

Plan/Schedule: To be announced


Convenor: Thilina Heenatigala (ELSI) and Mary Voytek (NASA)

Abstract: The search for evidence of potentially habitable environments and life beyond Earth has generated buzz-worthy content, and is increasingly prominent in astrobiology. Reports on evidence of life in the Martian meteorite ALH84001 and the detection of phosphine gas in Venus’s atmosphere are examples of research results -- both strongly contested -- that prompted a storm of social media and news content. The astrobiology community is in the process of developing standards of evidence for confirming the existence of extraterrestrial life. This discussion session invites for an open dialogue on current efforts and understanding in scientific and science communication communities that are working on the evidence of life beyond Earth. 

Plan/Schedule: Tuesday, 16 January 2024, 14:00-15:30 at Agora, ELSI.

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