Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 76, Issue 4, pp 185–191 | Cite as

The Evolutionary Origin of Biological Function and Complexity

Original Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Abiogenesis Dynamic kinetic stability Biological complexity Function Kinetic selection 

References

  1. Adami C (2002) What is complexity? BioEssays 24:1085–1094PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adami C, Cerf NJ (2000) Physical complexity of symbolic sequences. Phys D 137:62–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adami C, Ofria C, Collier TC (2000) Evolution of biological complexity. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97:4463–4468PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arthur WB (1994) On the evolution of complexity. In: Cowan G, Pines D, Meltzer D (eds) Complexity: metaphors, models, and reality, vol. XIX of Santa Fe institute studies in the science of complexity. Addison Wesley, Redwood City, pp 65–78Google Scholar
  5. Cleland CE, Chyba CF (2002) Defining life. Orig Life Evol Biosph 32:387–393PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dadon Z, Wagner N, Ashkenasy G (2008) The road to non-enzymatic molecular networks. Angew Chem Int Ed 47:6128–6136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dawkins R (1989) The selfish gene. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  8. Edlund JA, Chaumont N, Hintze A, Koch C, Tononi G, Adami C (2011) Integrated information increases with fitness in the evolution of animats. PLoS Comput Biol 7:e1002236PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Eigen M (1992) Steps toward life: a perspective on evolution. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  10. Forterre P, Gribaldo S (2007) The origin of modern terrestrial life. HFSP J 1:156–168. doi:10.2976/1.2759103 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fry I (2000) The emergence of life on earth. Rutgers University Press, New BrunswickGoogle Scholar
  12. Gell-Mann M (1995) What is complexity? Complexity 1:16–19Google Scholar
  13. Gell-Mann M, Lloyd S (1996) Information measures, effective complexity, and total information. Complexity 2:44–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ghiselin MT (1994) Darwin’s language may seem teleological but his thinking is another matter. Biol Philos 9:489–492CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gould SJ (1996) Full house. Harmony Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Joyce GF (1989) RNA evolution and the origins of life. Nature 338:217–224PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kauffman SA (1986) Autocatalytic sets of proteins. J Theor Biol 119:1–24PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kauffman SA (2000) Investigations. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  19. Lazcano A (2008) What is life? A brief historical overview. Chem Biodivers 5:1–15PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lennox JG (1993) Darwin was a teleologist. Biol Philos 8:409–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lifson S (1997) On the crucial stages in the origin of animate matter. J Mol Evol 44:1–8PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lifson S, Lifson H (2001) Coexistence and Darwinian selection among replicators: response to the preceding paper by Scheuring and Szathmáry. J Theor Biol 212:107–109PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lincoln TA, Joyce GF (2009) Self-sustained replication of an RNA enzyme. Science 323:1229–1232PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ludlow RF, Otto S (2008) Systems chemistry. Chem Soc Rev 37:101–108PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Luisi PL (2006) The emergence of life: from chemical origins to synthetic biology. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mayr E (1988) Toward a new philosophy of biology. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  27. McShea DW (1996) Metazoan complexity and evolution: is there a trend? Evolution 50:477–492CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McShea DW (2000) Functional complexity in organisms: parts as proxies. Biol Philos 15:641–668CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McShea DW, Brandon RN (2010) Biology’s first law: the tendency for diversity and complexity to increase in evolutionary systems. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mills DR, Peterson RL, Spiegelman S (1967) An extracellular Darwinian experiment with a self-duplicating nucleic acid molecule. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 58:217–224PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nagel T (2012) Mind and cosmos: why the materialist neo-Darwinian conception of nature is almost certainly false. Oxford University Press, USACrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pascal R (2012a) Suitable energetic conditions for dynamic chemical complexity and the living State. J Syst Chem 3:3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pascal R (2012b) Life, metabolism and energy. In: Smith IWL, Cockell CS, Leach S (eds) Astrochemistry and astrobiology: physical chemistry in action. Springer, Berlin, pp 243–269Google Scholar
  34. Pross A (2005) On the emergence of biological complexity: life as a kinetic state of matter. Orig Life Evol Biosph 35:151–166PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pross A (2008) How can a chemical system act purposefully? Bridging between life and non-life. J Phys Org Chem 21:724–730CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pross A (2009) Seeking the chemical roots of Darwinism: bridging between chemistry and biology. Chem Eur J 15:8374–8381PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pross A (2011) Toward a general theory of evolution: extending Darwinian theory to inanimate matter. J Syst Chem 2:1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pross A (2012) What is life? How chemistry becomes biology. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  39. Pross A, Khodorkovsky V (2004) Extending the concept of kinetic stability: toward a paradigm for life. J Phys Org Chem 17:312–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pross A, Pascal R (2013) The origin of life: what we know, what we can know, and what we will never know. Open Biol 3:120190PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Scheuring I, Szathmáry E (2001) Survival of replicators with parabolic growth tendency and exponential decay. J Theor Biol 212:99–105PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schrödinger E (1944) What is life?. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  43. Schuster P (1996) How does complexity arise in evolution? Complexity 2:22–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Shapiro R (2006) Small molecule interactions were central to the origin of life. Q Rev Biol 81:105–125PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sievers D, von Kiedrowski G (1994) Self-replication of complementary nucleotide-based oligomers. Nature 369:221–224PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Smith JM, Szathmáry E (1995) The major transitions in evolution. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  47. Vaidya N, Manapat ML, Chen IA, Xulvi-Brunet R, Hayden EJ, Lehman N (2012) Spontaneous network formation among cooperative RNA replicators. Nature 491:72–77PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. von Kiedrowski G, Otto S, Herdewijn P (2010) Welcome home, systems chemists! J Syst Chem 1:1Google Scholar
  49. Wattis JAD, Coveney PV (1999) The origin of the RNA world: a kinetic model. J Phys Chem 103:4231–4250Google Scholar
  50. Woese CR, Goldenfeld N (2009) How the microbial world saved evolution from the Scylla of molecular biology and the Charybdis of the modern synthesis. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev 73:14–21PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryBen Gurion University of the NegevBe’er ShevaIsrael

Personalised recommendations