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Droplets: Unconventional Protocell Model with Life-Like Dynamics and Room to Grow

Centre for Integrative Biology (CIBIO), University of Trento, Via Sommarive, 9 I-38123 Povo (TN), Italy
Life 2014, 4(4), 1038-1049; https://doi.org/10.3390/life4041038
Received: 31 October 2014 / Revised: 8 December 2014 / Accepted: 11 December 2014 / Published: 17 December 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protocells - Designs for Life)
Over the past few decades, several protocell models have been developed that mimic certain essential characteristics of living cells. These protocells tend to be highly reductionist simplifications of living cells with prominent bilayer membrane boundaries, encapsulated metabolisms and/or encapsulated biologically-derived polymers as potential sources of information coding. In parallel with this conventional work, a novel protocell model based on droplets is also being developed. Such water-in-oil and oil-in-water droplet systems can possess chemical and biochemical transformations and biomolecule production, self-movement, self-division, individuality, group dynamics, and perhaps the fundamentals of intelligent systems and evolution. Given the diverse functionality possible with droplets as mimics of living cells, this system has the potential to be the first true embodiment of artificial life that is an orthologous departure from the one familiar type of biological life. This paper will synthesize the recent activity to develop droplets as protocell models. View Full-Text
Keywords: artificial cells; droplets; convection; emergence of life; fluid dynamics; minimal cells; origin of life; protocells artificial cells; droplets; convection; emergence of life; fluid dynamics; minimal cells; origin of life; protocells
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Hanczyc, M.M. Droplets: Unconventional Protocell Model with Life-Like Dynamics and Room to Grow. Life 2014, 4, 1038-1049.

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