Sanjay Jain (University of Delhi; SFI External Professor)
Abstract. A self-reproducing cell in an exponential phase steady state culture must double the population of each of its component molecular species between birth and division. Achieving this "balanced growth" wherein thousands of chemicals coordinate their doubling in the same time is a remarkable regulatory feat on the part of a cell, and its origin remains a puzzle. It is believed that this is achieved by various regulatory mechanisms in the cell such as checkpoints, feedback circuits, etc. I will argue, based on mathematical models of cellular dynamics, that there exists an alternative self-organizing process in growing-dividing cells that achieves balanced growth spontaneously without any sophisticated regulatory mechanisms. This self-organizing process which also leads to cellular homeostasis in fact exists in a large class of self-reproducing systems. It is likely to have been conserved from protocells at the origin of life down to modern cells.