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What Does “the RNA World” Mean to “the Origin of Life”?
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Life 2017, 7(4), 53; doi:10.3390/life7040053

Kin Selection in the RNA World

Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK
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Received: 15 October 2017 / Revised: 17 November 2017 / Accepted: 30 November 2017 / Published: 5 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The RNA World and the Origin of Life)
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Abstract

Various steps in the RNA world required cooperation. Why did life’s first inhabitants, from polymerases to synthetases, cooperate? We develop kin selection models of the RNA world to answer these questions. We develop a very simple model of RNA cooperation and then elaborate it to model three relevant issues in RNA biology: (1) whether cooperative RNAs receive the benefits of cooperation; (2) the scale of competition in RNA populations; and (3) explicit replicator diffusion and survival. We show: (1) that RNAs are likely to express partial cooperation; (2) that RNAs will need mechanisms for overcoming local competition; and (3) in a specific example of RNA cooperation, persistence after replication and offspring diffusion allow for cooperation to overcome competition. More generally, we show how kin selection can unify previously disparate answers to the question of RNA world cooperation. View Full-Text
Keywords: RNA cooperation; kin selection; RNA world; Hamilton’s rule; limited diffusion; origin of the genome; scale of competition; modelling the origin of life RNA cooperation; kin selection; RNA world; Hamilton’s rule; limited diffusion; origin of the genome; scale of competition; modelling the origin of life
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Levin, S.R.; West, S.A. Kin Selection in the RNA World. Life 2017, 7, 53.

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