Group selection of early replicators and the origin of life

E. Szathmáry, László Demeter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

233 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A major problem of the origin of life has been that of information integration. As Eigen (1971) has shown, a mutant distribution of RNAs replicating without the aid of a replicase cannot integrate sufficient information for the functioning of a higher-level unit utilizing several types of encoded enzymes. He proposed the hypercycle model to bridge this gap in prebiology. It can be shown by a nonlinear game model, incorporating mutation of a hypercycle, that the selection properties of hypercycles make them inefficient information integrators as they cannot compete favourably with all kinds of less efficient information carriers or mutationally coupled hypercycles. The stochastic corrector model is presented as an alternative resolution of Eigen's paradox. It assumes that replicative templates are competing within replicative compartments, whose selective values depend on the internal template composition via a catalytic aid in replication and "metabolism". The dynamics of template replication are analyzed by numerical simulation of master equations. Due to the stochasticity in replication and compartment fission the best compartment types recur. An Eigen equation at the compartment level is set up and calculated. Even selfish template mutants cannot destroy the system though they make it less efficient. The genetic information of templates is evaluated at both levels, and the higher (compartment) level successfully constrains the lower (template) one. Compartmentation together with stochastic effects is sufficient to integrate information dispersed in competitive replicators. Compartment selection is considered to be group selection of replicators. Implications for the origin of life are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-486
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Volume128
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 21 1987

Fingerprint

Origin of Life
early selection
Genetic Templates
Template
Nonlinear Dynamics
Stochastic models
RNA
Metabolism
Replication
Enzymes
Mutant
Mutation
Computer simulation
Chemical analysis
Integrate
Sufficient
mutants
Information Integration
Stochasticity
Corrector

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Group selection of early replicators and the origin of life. / Szathmáry, E.; Demeter, László.

In: Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 128, No. 4, 21.10.1987, p. 463-486.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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