Before proceeding to determine the meaning of the term coacervates, it is necessary to proceed to discover its etymological origin. In this case, we can establish that it is a word that derives from Latin, exactly from the verb “coacervare”, which can be translated as “accumulate”.

The coacervates are systems formed by the binding of complex molecules like proteins and amino acids. These items are rated as primitive living beings since, according to biologists, they were key in the development of life on the planet Land.

Molecule system

Coacervates arise from the combination of complex molecules.

Discovery of the coacervates

Russian Aleksander oparin he was the one who discovered that it was possible to generate lifeless lipid membranes. After various experiments, he managed to produce drops with a high level of biomolecules, isolated from the aqueous medium by a primary membrane. He gave these drops the name of coacervates.

In the coacervates they develop chemical reactions that give rise to systems increasingly complex. As this complexity progresses, the coacervates separate from the aqueous medium and become independent units that interact with the environment.

It can be said that the coacervates are grains or drops that are delimited by a membrane. These are sets of molecules that present two phases: the water molecules surround the grains that present diverse chemical substances. Thus a layer is formed that separates the coacervates themselves from the liquid in which they develop.


According to one theory, today’s cells are derived from primitive coacervates.

Theory about its origin

One theory indicates that, in the primitive atmosphere of the Land, there was water, carbon dioxide, ammonia, and methane. Electric discharges and solar rays provided the conditions for the emergence of coacervates, which would have appeared in the ocean, where different organic materials were already found.

The absorption of these organic materials allowed the nutrition of the coacervates, which began to develop and generate more complex molecules. Continuing with this theory, cells current would be the evolution of those molecules.

Characteristics of coacervates

In the same way, we cannot ignore another important series of aspects about coacervates, such as the following:

-They have the ability to be able to possess what is known as a selective tendency.
-Another of the important questions about these elements that concern us is that they have the ability to absorb everything that is found in its path. However, they cannot include or add another coacervate to what is its corresponding composition.
-The theory or hypothesis established by the Russian Oparin on the origin of life was taken up, some time later, by the American scientist Stanley Miller (1930 – 2007). What he achieved was nothing other than, from inorganic matter, to shape certain organic matter.
-Oparin was elected in 1970 President of the International Society for the Study of the Origins of Life.

In addition to all the above, we cannot ignore the fact that coacervates have now become very useful elements in different sectors such as, for example, chemistry. Specifically, they are used in this aforementioned area to proceed to shape what is the analysis of compounds.