Harold Fellermann, Ricard Solé

Paper #: 06-07-025

The building of minimal self-reproducing systems with a physical embodiment (generically called protocells) is a great challenge, with implications for both theory and applied sciences. Although the classical view of a living protocell assumes that it includes information-carrying molecules as an essential ingredient, a dividing cell-like structure can be built from a metabolism-container coupled system, only. An example of such a system, modeled with dissipative particle dynamics, is presented here. This article demonstrates how a simple coupling between a precursor molecule and surfactant molecules forming micelles can experience a growth-division cycle in a predictable manner, and analyzes the influence of crucial parameters on this replication cycle. Implications of these results for origins of cellular life and living technology are outlined.