Multispecies population dynamics of prebiotic compositional assemblies

Markovitch, Omer, and Doron Lancet. “Multispecies population dynamics of prebiotic compositional assemblies.” Journal of theoretical biology 357 (2014): 26-34.

Present life portrays a two-tier phenomenology: molecules compose supramolecular structures, such as cells or organisms, which in turn portray population behaviors, including selection, evolution and ecological dynamics. Prebiotic models have often focused on evolution in populations of self-replicating molecules, without explicitly invoking the intermediate molecular-to-supramolecular transition. Here, we explore a prebiotic model that allows one to relate parameters of chemical interaction networks within molecular assemblies to emergent population dynamics. We use the graded autocatalysis replication domain (GARD) model, which simulates the network dynamics within amphiphile-containing molecular assemblies, and exhibits quasi-stationary compositional states termed compotype species. These grow by catalyzed accretion, divide and propagate their compositional information to progeny in a replication-like manner. The model allows us to ask how molecular network parameters influence assembly evolution and population dynamics parameters. In 1000 computer simulations, each embodying different parameter set of the global chemical interaction network parameters, we observed a wide range of behaviors. These were analyzed by a multi species logistic model often used for analyzing population ecology (rK or Lotka–Volterra competition model). We found that compotypes with a larger intrinsic molecular repertoire show a higher intrinsic growth (r ) and lower carrying capacity (K ), as well as lower replication fidelity. This supports a prebiotic scenario initiated by fast-replicating assemblies with a high molecular diversity, evolving into more faithful replicators with narrower molecular repertoires.

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