Selection and Evolution in Molecular Systems

  • Peter Schuster
Part of the NATO Advanced Study Institutes Series book series (NSSB, volume 75)


The capability of self-replication is one of the unique features of living beings. Outside biology we encounter this property only occasionally. Examples of such exceptions are autocatalytic reactions in chemistry which play an important role in the formation of chemical oscillations and waves as well as in vapor phase combustion. In this class of chemical reactions the numbers of small molecules, radicals or ions double or, in general, multiply. There are also examples of self-replication in the intellectual world like the highly sophisticated programs of learning computers or some complicated mathematical games. In this contribution we shall summarize a series of studies on molecular self-replication by means of chemical kinetics. This work has been initiated in 1971 by the comprehensive paper by Eigen [1971]. Later on, several publications continued work along these lines [Eigen and Winkler-Oswatitsch, 1975, 1980; Eigen, 1976; Eigen and Schuster, 1977, 1978 a, b; Schuster, 1980; Schuster and Sigmund, 1980]. Finally, we shall apply the concept of self-organization through self-replication to two vividly discussed problems in biological evolution, to the emergence of life from prebiotic mixtures of molecules and to the self-regulation of behaviour in animal societies.


Molecular System Growth Function Stable Limit Cycle Autocatalytic Reaction Hamiltonian Graph 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Schuster
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut fuer Theoretische Chemie und StrahlenchemieUniversität WienAustria

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