Evolutionary Biology: Exobiology and Evolutionary Mechanisms

pp 49-60


The Origin of Life, Evolution, and Functional Organization

  • Wim HordijkAffiliated Email author 
  • , Mike SteelAffiliated withBiomathematics Research Centre, University of Canterbury
  • , Stuart KauffmanAffiliated withUniversity of Vermont

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The idea that autocatalytic sets played an important role in the origin of life is not new. Neither is the idea that autocatalytic sets can tell us something about the evolution and functional organization of living systems. However, most of these ideas have, until recently, remained at a conceptual level, and very few concrete, mathematically sound, and practically applicable results had been achieved. In this chapter, we review and discuss recent results on a mathematical framework of autocatalytic sets that could take the idea out of the conceptual realm, and provide a formal and powerful way to investigate autocatalytic sets in the context of the origin of life, evolution, and functional organization.