Exploring the Origins of Life – Scientists Propose Alternative Model

Rainbow Particles Life

Scientists have developed a model that explains how molecules can quickly self-organize into life-like structures, challenging traditional views on the origin of life. Their research also reveals that both the number of molecule species involved in a metabolic cycle and the complex network effects are key in the formation of these self-organized structures.

A new model helps to understand the self-organization of molecules into living structures.

One potential hypothesis for the emergence of life involves the self-assembling of interrelating molecules into structures similar to cellular droplets. These specific groups of molecules could establish the earliest self-replicating metabolic cycles, a feature universally present in biological systems and consistent across all life forms. According to this paradigm, the first biomolecules would need to cluster together through slow and overall inefficient processes.

Such slow cluster formation seems incompatible with how quickly life has appeared. Scientists from the department of Living Matter Physics from MPI-DS have now proposed an alternative model that explains such cluster formation and thus the fast onset of the chemical reactions required to form life.

“For this, we considered different molecules, in a simple metabolic cycle, where each species produces a chemical used by the next one,” says Vincent Ouazan-Reboul, the first author of the study.

“The only elements in the model are the catalytic activity of the molecules, their ability to follow concentration gradients of the chemicals they produce and consume, as well as the information on the order of molecules in the cycle,” he continues.

New Model for Self Organizing Catalytic Molecules

A new model describes the self-organization of catalysts involved in metabolic cycles. Different species of catalysts (represented by different colors) form clusters and can chase each other. Credit: MPI-DS / LMP

Consequently, the model showed the formation of catalytic clusters including various molecular species. Furthermore, the growth of clusters happens exponentially fast. Molecules hence can assemble very quickly and in large numbers into dynamic structures.

“In addition, the number of molecule species which participate in the metabolic cycle plays a key role in the structure of the formed clusters,” Ramin Golestanian, director at MPI-DS, summarizes: “Our model leads to a plethora of complex scenarios for self-organization and makes specific predictions about functional advantages that arise for odd or even number of participating species. It is remarkable that non-reciprocal interactions as required for our newly proposed scenario are generically present in all metabolic cycles.”

In another study, the authors found that self-attraction is not required for clustering in a small metabolic network. Instead, network effects can cause even self-repelling catalysts to aggregate. With this, the researchers demonstrate new conditions in which complex interactions can create self-organized structures.

Overall, the new insights of both studies add another mechanism to the theory of how complex life once emerged from simple molecules, and more generally uncover how catalysts involved in metabolic networks can form structures.

Reference: “Self-organization of primitive metabolic cycles due to non-reciprocal interactions” by Vincent Ouazan-Reboul, Jaime Agudo-Canalejo and Ramin Golestanian, 26 July 2023, Nature Communications.
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-40241-w

6 Comments on "Exploring the Origins of Life – Scientists Propose Alternative Model"

  1. Rowell Manning | August 6, 2023 at 9:13 pm | Reply

    Biology has direction. All life are involved. Cosmic also.

  2. I have never seen so much disinformation regurgitated in one rant other than by a witch doctor I met in PNG.
    This article is “akin” to: I found out how Legos are made, saying nothing about how to assemble them into a 747.

    • Tell me you understood nothing from the article without telling me you understood nothing from the article.

  3. Self organization of non living molecules became living reproductive cells???? Ha!!!! I don’t think the word Science means what you think it means!!!

  4. Robert W.Green Jr. | August 12, 2023 at 7:25 pm | Reply

    Ok,include happenstance of of an organization of molecules, length, width, height, time, toward awareness of it, during millions of years, of all possibilities; but, ritualistic, psychotic, two-way, telepathic communications, with nonentities in non places, believing, telepathy, nonentities and non places, real, is the least, mentally, evolved in history, i.e., “What, happened”, obviously,beyond six billion of them, among the totalitarian atheists, yet, to decide and from, among sexually predatory, parasitic, mind control enslavement crimes against humanity, the yoke on most, including magical beliefs and those far, to few, atheists of truly, science, determining fact from fiction, among the mass of what should by common human rights and more sense than, lower species.

  5. Gosh , I thought I had problems ; fortunately the huge majority , the non homo sapiens that co exist on the planet , do not share our concept of self pity ; so there is hope .

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