Mechanisms of Emergence: How life-like functions can emerge spontaneously in chemical networks

This seminar is part of the EAI on-line seminars

By Sijbren Otto, University of Groningen Centre for Systems Chemistry, Stratingh Institute

06 February 2024, 16:00 CET

While a lot of research is devoted to the search for the chemical building blocks of life in prebiotic settings, relatively little attention has been paid to how the functions of life can emerge from mixtures of lifeless molecules. In this seminar I will introduce you to simple mechanisms through which several functions, that are deemed essential to life, can emerge from simple chemical reaction networks. These functions include self-replication, followed by catalysis and how this can lead onto a primitive metabolism. Catalysis can also yield cell-like compartments to house the self-replicators. Under the right conditions the resulting systems can undergo rudimentary Darwinian evolution and exhibit life-like behavior, including niche partitioning and eco-evolutionary dynamics.