The Principle of Life

(1st edition)
Gondolat, 1971

„The author is surely not unknown for the reader. His interesting book – Revolution in the research of life – appeared 5 years ago at the Gondolat publisher. In his new book, he makes an attempt to define life by summarising everything what is known at present about this based on the speedy development of biology. His book is a valuable contribution to the fact that biology nowadays is not only a descriptive science any more, but a science based on the exact results of concrete research activities. Similarly to the other fields of science,  physics, chemistry, or geology, it is not identical with either of them, but it is related to all of them. First of all, biology should be acquainted with its own subject, the essence and laws of life. This new book by Tibor Gánti illustrates an interesting, new possibility for this.”


Biology progresses so quickly that in the interval between the writing and appearence of this book numerous interesting and essential discoveries happened, thus it is possible that several data need to be completed or even changed. The preparation of the first synthetic gene will not be a novelty when this book comes to the readers. I would like to mention that the synthese of penicillinase is given as an example for enzyme  induction. A Hungarian scientist, Vilmos Csányi discovered that the regulation of penicillinase synthese occurs probably not by the usual induction mechanism, but by a till now unknown mechanism (firmator model).

In the book, as a possibility is mentioned that the mytochondria and chloroplasts may be self-contained beings, the justification of this assumption would mean that the smallest units of living systems are not the cells, but these cell components. This statement is supported also by numerous new results, among others that chloroplasts could be made functioning outside the cell, on artificial cultures, and during the last year, even experiments justified that they can be proliferate once on artificial cultures.  

Looking for the essence of life is inseparable from the question of origin of life. The book often mentions that the development of primitive living systems could not take place by means of the catalytic effect of enzymes of a certain sequence of amino acids, thus special attention should be paid to studies investigating the origin of biological substances without enzymes. I have shown in the book several such results, and recently, these results have increased further. It was proven that peptide bonds can be formed from amino acids in the presence of polyphosphates, that the formation and coupling of amino acid-adenilates very important in protein synthesis are catalyzed by certain clays, that the clays prefer the L-form of amino acids against their chemically fully identical D-form present in the living world in their polymerisation to polypeptides, which are not built into the structure of their proteins. A lot of experiments were carried out for the fact that polymers of nucleic acid character can help to build the same nucleic acid polymers from the ground materials without the action of enzymes, providing thus a possibility to operate primitive information storing and copying systems without enzymes.

Further possibilities were found for the non-enzymatic formation of different amino acids under primordial conditions, including the formation of sulphur-containing amino acids, as well as that of tyrosine and phenyl-alanine. Several experiments were reported in which the abiogenic formation of nicotine acid derivatives indispensable in the function of living systems was proven.

At scanning the space by means of radio-astronomy, ammonia, formaldehyde, cyanide and methanol were found in the interstellar space, and even the presence of cyano-acetylene could be detected, by which fact it was proven that in different experiments aimed at abiogenic synthesis of these substances it is a common intermediate of proteins, nucleic acids, porphyrine and nicotinic acid derivatives.

New and new experimental results appear in the literaure all supporting the fact that the formation of life from inorganic systems occurred gradually, step by step through primitive chemical systems, but so that the specific enzymes were created also by these primitive functioning chemical systems.

Budapest, June 1971

The author