Considerations of Stability in Models of Primitive Life: Effect of Errors and Error Propagation

  • Clas Blomberg
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSB, volume 270)


Models of simple self-replicating systems that represent a primitive form of life are investigated with the main aim of finding conditions for the occurrence of stable, self-sustained states. Such conditions are provided by requirements for ‘food molecules’, i.e. activated monomers, which build up the self-replicating polymers. For this, kinetic equations are used that explicitly contain both growth and degradation terms of all substances including the food molecules which are assumed to be created by some energy-driven process. The conditions for self-sustained states are essentially that the concentration of the food molecules must be large enough to allow growth of the polymers. In particular, we are interested in how these conditions change with the length of the polymers, with the complexity of the system and with the accuracy of the synthesis. For a system of independent self-replicating units, there do not seem to be any severe obstacles in reaching a stable state with errors taken into account even in a primitive system, provided the polymers are not too long. In such systems, a description of molecular evolution is relatively straightforward. On the other hand, in a system with cooperative units, the situation is more complex. A particular situation is studied with polymers built up by an adaptor (tRNA or a precursor of that). Here errors and the occurrence of error propagation are important features that should be properly understood in a description of the first cooperating forms of life.


Decay Rate Error Propagation Monomer Concentration Cooperative Unit Error Catastrophe 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Blomberg, C., 1983, Free energy cost and accuracy in branched selection processes of biosynthesis. Quart. Rev. Biophys., 16:415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blomberg, C., 1990, Modelling efficiency, error propagation and the effect of error-enhancing drugs in protein synthesis. Biomed. Biochem. Acta, 49:879.Google Scholar
  3. Blomberg, C., von Heijne, G., and Leimar O., 1981, Competition, coexistence and irreversibility in models of early molecular evolution, in Origin of Life, Y. Wolman, ed., D.Reidel Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  4. Blomberg, C., and Liljenström, H., 1988, Efficiency in Biosynthesis — Cellular synergetics, in Synergetics, Order and Chaos, M.G. Velarde ed., World Scientific.Google Scholar
  5. Eigen, M. 1971, Selforganization of matter and the evolution of biological macromolecules. Naturwissenschaften, 58:465.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Eigen, M., and Schuster, P., 1977, The Hypercycle. A principle of natural self-organization. Part B. The abstract hypercycle. Naturwissenschaften, 65:7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hoffman, G.W., 1974, On the origin of the genetic code and the stability of the translational apparatus. J. Mol. Biol., 86:349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kirkwood, T.B.L., Holliday, R., and Rosenberger, R.F., 1984, Stability of the cellular translational process. Int Rev. Cytol., 92:93.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Orgel, L. E., 1963, The maintenance af the accuracy of protein synthesis and its relevance to ageing. Proc. Natn. Acad. Sci USA, 49:517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Schuster, P., 1988, Potential functions in molecular evolution, inSynergetics, Order and Chaos, M. G. Velarde, ed., World Scientific.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clas Blomberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Theoretical PhysicsRoyal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations