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Entropy 2010, 12(7), 1733-1742; doi:10.3390/e12071733

Autocatalytic Sets and the Origin of Life

1, 1 and 2,*
1 Department of Statistics, University of Oxford, 1 South Parks Road, Oxford, UK 2 Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, Biomathematics Research Centre, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 May 2010 / Accepted: 28 June 2010 / Published: 30 June 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emergence in Chemical Systems)
Download PDF [177 KB, 24 February 2015; original version 24 February 2015]


The origin of life is one of the most fundamental, but also one of the most difficult problems in science. Despite differences between various proposed scenarios, one common element seems to be the emergence of an autocatalytic set or cycle at some stage. However, there is still disagreement as to how likely it is that such self-sustaining sets could arise “spontaneously”. This disagreement is largely caused by the lack of formal models. Here, we briefly review some of the criticism against and evidence in favor of autocatalytic sets, and then make a case for their plausibility based on a formal framework that was introduced and studied in our previous work.
Keywords: origin of life; autocatalytic sets; RAF sets origin of life; autocatalytic sets; RAF sets
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Hordijk, W.; Hein, J.; Steel, M. Autocatalytic Sets and the Origin of Life. Entropy 2010, 12, 1733-1742.

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