Abstract: The process by which chemistry can give rise to biology remains one of the biggest mysteries in contemporary science. The de novo synthesis and origin of life both require the functional integration of three key characteristics — replication, metabolism and compartmentalization — into a system that is maintained out of equilibrium and is capable of open-ended Darwinian evolution. This Review takes systems of self-replicating molecules as starting points and describes the steps necessary to integrate additional characteristics of life. We analyse how far experimental self-replicators have come in terms of Darwinian evolution. We also cover models of replicator communities that attempt to solve Eigen’s paradox, whereby accurate replication needs complex machinery yet obtaining such complex self-replicators through evolution requires accurate replication. Successful models rely on a collective metabolism and a way of (transient) compartmentalization, suggesting that the invention and integration of these two characteristics is driven by evolution. Despite our growing knowledge, there remain numerous key challenges that may be addressed by a combined theoretical and experimental approach. – Paul Adamski, Marcel Eleveld, Ankush Sood, Ádám Kun, András Szilágyi, Tamás Czárán, Eörs Szathmáry & Sijbren Otto, From self-replication to replicator systems en route to de novo life, Nature Reviews Chemistry (2020)
Note: “Despite our growing knowledge, there remain numerous key challenges that may be addressed by a combined theoretical and experimental approach.” We’ve been hearing that for decades. We’re missing something.
Paper. (open access)
Hat tip: Pos-darwinista
Eigen’s paradox?: This from Wikipedia: “In evolutionary biology and population genetics, the error threshold is a limit on the number of base pairs a self-replicating molecule may have before mutation will destroy the information in subsequent generations of the molecule. The error threshold is crucial to understanding “Eigen’s paradox””