Selection advantage of metabolic over non-metabolic replicators: A kinetic analysis

Nathaniel Wagner, Addy Pross, Emmanuel Tannenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


A kinetic analysis and simulation of the replication reactions of two competing replicators-one non-metabolic (thermodynamic), the other metabolic, are presented. Our analysis indicates that in a rich resource environment the non-metabolic replicator is likely to be kinetically selected for over the metabolic replicator. However, in the more typical resource-poor environment it will be the metabolic replicator that is the kinetically more stable entity, and the one that will be kinetically selected for. Accordingly, a causal relationship between the emergence of a simple replicator and the emergence of a metabolic system is indicated. The results lend further support for the "replication first" school of thought in the origin of life problem by providing a mechanistic basis for the emergence of a metabolism, once a simple non-metabolic replicating system has itself been established. The study reaffirms our view that the roots of Darwinian theory may be found within standard chemical kinetic theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-129
Number of pages4
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2010


  • Metabolism first
  • Origin of life
  • Purpose
  • Replication first
  • Teleonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
  • Applied Mathematics


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