Fatty acid bilayer membranes have unusual properties

How closely can we mimic life-like behaviours with a model primitive cell membrane?


How closely can we mimic life-like behaviours with a protein-free model primitive cell membrane? Here we consider bilayer membranes made of fatty acids, which are prebiotically interesting because 1) fatty acids can be synthesised abiotically, and 2) they are subunits of the phospholipids in eukaryotic and bacterial cell membranes. This seminar will explore the self-assembly and biophysical properties of fatty acids at a pH near their pKa, and some strategies to confer cell-like qualities to these bilayer membranes.

Speaker Biography:

Anna Wang is a Scientia Fellow in the School of Chemistry. She is interested in researching soft matter and biophysics, with a focus on using microscopy. She was a NASA Astrobiology Postdoctoral Program Fellow in Prof Jack W. Szostak’s lab at Massachusetts General Hospital, and did her PhD in Applied Physics on holographic microscopy at Harvard University with Prof Vinothan N Manoharan.