Speaker: Dr Anna Wang
Affiliation: University of NSW, Sydney


We self-assemble and biophysically characterise model primitive cells (protocells) with the aim of trying to understand this chemistry made the transition to biology at the origins of life. The feature we focus on is the lipid bilayer, which is found in all life on Earth as the semipermeable barriers that delineate all cells. Consequently, understanding how lipid bilayer vesicles can be driven out of equilibrium is critical in fields as diverse as drug delivery and astrobiology. We use a giant, unilamellar fatty acid protocell system, that has intriguing properties arising from the dynamic nature of the membrane. I will give an overview of some of these properties [1] that distinguish fatty acid membranes from comparable phospholipid systems. I will then discuss how these properties can be adapted to help fatty acid protocells achieve out-of-equilibrium behaviours such as division [2], endocytosis [3], and fusion [4].

[1] LA Lowe, JT Kindt, C Cranfield, B Cornell, A Macmillan, A Wang, Soft Matter, 2022, 18 (18), 3498-3504
[2] JT Kindt, JW Szostak, A Wang, ACS Nano, 2020, 14 (11), 14627-14634
[3] SJ Zhang, LA Lowe, P Anees, Y Krishnan, TG Fai, JW Szostak, A Wang, PNAS, 2023
[4] Z Fan, Y Deckel, LA Lowe, DWK Loo, T Yomo, JW Szostak, C Nisler, A Wang, Small Methods, 2023

About Physics colloquium

The Physics Colloquium series hosts a range of speakers from Australia and abroad. The series explores a variety of topics and everyone is welcome to come along. The seminars are open so there is no need to register your attendance.


Parnell Building (07)
Room: 222

Other upcoming sessions


16 Aug 2024


30 Aug 2024