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The Evolutionary Origins of Life and Death$
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Pierre M. Durand

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226747620

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226747934.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 30 July 2021

An introduction to the scientific study of life and death

An introduction to the scientific study of life and death

(p.1) An introduction to the scientific study of life and death
The Evolutionary Origins of Life and Death

Pierre M. Durand

University of Chicago Press

The origin of life and its inevitable association with death is one of the most intriguing areas in biology. The very idea of what life (and by extension death) is, is still debated. Once a system with the features that we associate with life existed, it would have been possible for such a system to die. What is surprising is that novel, programmed ways of dying are almost as old as cellular life itself. This book synthesizes the information from disparate disciplines to present up-to-date, parsimonious syntheses of how and why living systems and cell death emerged. There are three main ideas. Part 1 deals with the first living molecular systems. Part 2 investigates the origin and evolution of programmed cell death (PCD) in unicellular organisms. The third ‘big idea’ explains the coevolution of cellular life and PCD en route to more complex life forms. One of the aims has been to integrate as much of the current information from fields like the philosophy of biology, theoretical and molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, genomics and computational biology, and of course evolutionary theory, which is the central organizing framework around which all biological inquiry is structured.

Keywords:   origin of life, origin of death, programmed cell death, complex life, coevolution, PCD

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