Autocatalytic Sets Arising in a Combinatorial Model of Chemical Evolution.

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Life (Basel)


washington; isb


The idea that chemical evolution led to the origin of life is not new, but still leaves open the question of how exactly it could have led to a coherent and self-reproducing collective of molecules. One possible answer to this question was proposed in the form of the emergence of an autocatalytic set: a collection of molecules that mutually catalyze each other's formation and that is self-sustaining given some basic "food" source. Building on previous work, here we investigate in more detail when and how autocatalytic sets can arise in a simple model of chemical evolution based on the idea of combinatorial innovation with random catalysis assignments. We derive theoretical results, and compare them with computer simulations. These results could suggest a possible step towards the (or an) origin of life.


Institute for Systems Biology