Emergence and Detection of Life

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

New: Registration was closed (onsite registration is ok). List of poster presentations is uploaded here. Preliminary information regarding post-symposium activities ("aftershops") is now posted here.

Group photo of Joint CO world and 12th ELSI Symposium, January, 2024. Credit: ELSI


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)

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

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

14:15-14:45 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"

15:40-16:10 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

Wednesday 10 January (Day 2, Chair: Ueno)

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"

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?

15:20-15:45 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

Thursday 11 January (Day 3, Chairs: Smith & Longo)

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"

10:30-10:55 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

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

15:30-15:55 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

Friday 12 January (Day 4, Chairs: Ueno & Hernlund)

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"

Please input any comments, topics, or questions you would like to discuss using this form at this link

Aftershops (Monday 15 January ---)


Please refer to the Google Map below for detailed locations.

Registration (CLOSED, Please Register Onsite)

All attendees are requested to fill the following registration form, this will (1) tell us how to list your name and affiliation for your badge, (2) inform us whether you will attend the banquet so that we know how much food and drink to order, (3) allow you to submit an abstract, and (4) give you an opportunity to inform us about any special needs or assistance you may require. There is no registration fee for this event (although there will be a separate charge to attend the optional banquet).

Note 1: The deadline for registration is 30 November 2023 8 December 2023 (extended). Due to constraints on the number of oral and poster slots available, we are unable to accept new oral and poster submissions.

Note 2: if your browser is having difficulty rendering this embedded registration form below, please click here to go directly to the registration form.

Poster Information

Our poster sessions are lively and active events, and an integral part of the symposium. Please submit an abstract via the registration form by 8 December 2023. Poster display boards and necessary attachment hardware will be provided. Our poster boards are optimized for A0 size in portrait orientation (841mm wide × 1189mm tall).

Symposium Banquet

We will hold our symposium banquet from 18:00-21:00 on Thirsday 11 January in the ELSI Agora. A variety of food and drinks will be provided. Note that we cannot use institutional funds for this kind of event, and we kindly request a banquet fee from attendees in order to cover costs.

Banquet fee (please pay at the registration, but ELSI members should pay in advance)

ELSI PI: 10,000 JPY

ELSI A-PI: 7,000 JPY

Visitor, Researcher, Postdoc: 5,000 JPY

Students: 2,500 JPY

Symposium Survey

Code of Conduct

Harassment of any kind will not be tolerated. All event attendees and staff have the right to a space that is free of all forms of discrimination, harassment, bullying, and/or retaliation. Participants who are requested to stop any harassing behaviour are expected to comply immediately. If you wish to report harassment, suspect that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of the organizing committee as soon as possible.