The Evolutionary Origin of Biological Function and Complexity
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- Pross, A. J Mol Evol (2013) 76: 185. doi:10.1007/s00239-013-9556-1
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The identification of dynamic kinetic stability (DKS) as a stability kind that governs the evolutionary process for both chemical and biological replicators, opens up new avenues for uncovering the chemical basis of biological phenomena. In this paper, we utilize the DKS concept to explore the chemical roots of two of biology’s central concepts—function and complexity. It is found that the selection rule in the world of persistent replicating systems—from DKS less stable to DKS more stable—is the operational law whose very existence leads to the creation of function from of a world initially devoid of function. The origin of biological complexity is found to be directly related to the origin of function through an underlying connection between the two phenomena. Thus the emergence of both function and complexity during abiogenesis, and their growing expression during biological evolution, are found to be governed by the same single driving force, the drive toward greater DKS. It is reaffirmed that the essence of biological phenomena can be best revealed by uncovering biology’s chemical roots, by elucidating the physicochemical principles that governed the process by which life on earth emerged from inanimate matter.