Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Introducing the Physical Driving Forces into Biology

Version 1 : Received: 15 February 2023 / Approved: 16 February 2023 / Online: 16 February 2023 (08:43:17 CET)

How to cite: Popovic, M. Introducing the Physical Driving Forces into Biology. Preprints 2023, 2023020279. Popovic, M. Introducing the Physical Driving Forces into Biology. Preprints 2023, 2023020279.


Life sciences are increasingly benefiting from multidisciplinary research, combining biology, chemistry and physics. At their intersection, biothermodynamics applies the quantitative framework of thermodynamics to life processes and is a potentially interesting subject for life science students. Here a method is proposed to teach undergraduate life science students the basics of biothermodynamics, building and expanding on the concept of Gibbs energy learned as a part of the physical or general chemistry course. The discussion begins with the role of Gibbs energy as the driving force of metabolism and growth. Moreover, a biological example is proposed of the enthalpy-entropy combinations resulting in negative Gibbs energy, which should be interesting to life science students. Gibbs energy is then used to explain microorganism growth rates, using a simple thermodynamic growth model. Finally, multiplication of viruses is considered, including SARS-CoV-2, using Gibbs energy to explain the hijacking of host cell metabolism. Implementation of the proposed biothermodynamics material in classroom is discussed. The paper should be useful as material for making lectures for undergraduate students and as a starting point for anyone beginning to do research in biothermodynamics.


Biophysics; Biothermodynamics; Growth; Microorganism; Virus; Enthalpy; Entropy; Gibbs energy


Biology and Life Sciences, Virology

Comments (0)

We encourage comments and feedback from a broad range of readers. See criteria for comments and our Diversity statement.

Leave a public comment
Send a private comment to the author(s)
* All users must log in before leaving a comment
Views 0
Downloads 0
Comments 0
Metrics 0

Notify me about updates to this article or when a peer-reviewed version is published.
We use cookies on our website to ensure you get the best experience.
Read more about our cookies here.