A model for the origin of life

  title={A model for the origin of life},
  author={Freeman J. Dyson},
  journal={Journal of Molecular Evolution},
  • F. Dyson
  • Published 2005
  • Biology
  • Journal of Molecular Evolution
SummaryA simple statistical model is constructed, describing the transition from disorder to order in a population of mutually catalytic molecules undergoing random mutations. The consequences of the model are calculated, and its possible relevance to the problem of the origin of life is discussed. The main conclusion of the analysis is that the model allows populations of several thousand molecular units to make the transition from disorder to order with reasonable probability. 

A model of autocatalytic replication

  • L. Abbott
  • Biology, Materials Science
    Journal of Molecular Evolution
  • 2005
The catalytic effects that existing polymer chains have on the formation of new chains are modeled using ideas from spin glasses and neural networks, leading to an extremely simple realization of a system exhibiting Darwinian evolution.

The origin of life is a spatially localized stochastic transition

Computational models that address the way a living autocatalytic system could have emerged from a non-living chemical system, as envisaged in the RNA World hypothesis, are studied.

The Origin of Life: Models and Data

OOL models based on privileged functions necessarily depend on “takeovers” to transition from previous genetic and catalytic systems to the extant DNA/RNA/protein system, requiring replacement of one Molecular Toolbox with another and of one Universal Gene Set with another.

Onset of natural selection in populations of autocatalytic heteropolymers.

This work model the dynamics of 2-mers, i.e., sequential pairs of specific monomers within the heteropolymer population capable of template-assisted ligation based on Watson-Crick-like hybridization, and results in a limited subset of polymer sequences.

Origin and evolution of heredity-metabolism system

The C4N model calls for a stronger role of physico-chemistry in the understanding of the origin of life, and points out that functional differentiation of proteins closely correlates with the structure of the primitive tRNAs.

Complexity, self-organization and the origin of life: The happy liaison?

Current biology indicates that life could have not evolved in the absence of a genetic replicating mechanism insuring the stability and diversification of its basic components.

Autocatalytic Sets and the Origin of Life

Some of the criticism against and evidence in favor of autocatalytic sets are reviewed, and a case for their plausibility is made based on a formal framework that was introduced and studied in the previous work.

Chemistry Constraints on the Origin of Life

Although these chemical constraints may hinder the reconstruction of life as it is now in the laboratory, their understanding can be useful and even essential for devising a synthetic alternative route to functional macromolecules and to their metabolic interactions.

A colorful origin for the genetic code: Information theory, statistical mechanics and the emergence of molecular codes

  • T. Tlusty
  • Computer Science, Biology
    Physics of life reviews
  • 2010

A model on the origin of RNA

The theory of the liquid–glass transition is extended to describe the polymerization of RNA in a nucleotide-condensed state. In the glassy state the ribose subunits are joined by a 2′–5′ or 3′–5′



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Stochastic Processes in Population Genetics, with Special Reference to Distribution of Gene Frequencies and Probability of Gene Fixation

The fundamental quantity which is used in population genetics to describe the genetic composition of a Mendelian population (i.e. reproductive community) is the gene frequency, or the proportion of a

Molecular Self‐Organization and the Origin of Life

Origin of life between scylla and charybdis

A computer simulation was used to quantify the effects of fluctuation, mutation, and package death by accident and it is suggested that life started out with compartments containing not more than 3 different genes.

Replication and Evolution in Inorganic Systems

The principle of replication, i.e. the spontaneous self-multiplication of a carrier of information, can be shown to be a general property of certain macromolecular systems and the question of whether or not chemical evolution resulted directly in the nucleic acid/protein system has to be answered.

Error propagation in intracellular information transfer.

The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection

Although it is true that most text-books of genetics open with a chapter on biometry, closer inspection will reveal that this has little connexion with the body of the work, and that more often than not it is merely belated homage to a once fashionable study.

The origin of life on the earth.

Growing evidence supports the idea that the emergence of catalytic RNA was a crucial early step. How that RNA came into being remains unknown.

Kinetic analysis of template-instructed and de novo RNA synthesis by Q beta replicase.