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Prebiotic RNA Network Formation: A Taxonomy of Molecular Cooperation

Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
Department of Chemistry, Portland State University, P.O. Box 751, Portland, OR 97202, USA
School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 September 2017 / Revised: 6 October 2017 / Accepted: 11 October 2017 / Published: 16 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The RNA World and the Origin of Life)
PDF [2178 KB, uploaded 16 October 2017]


Cooperation is essential for evolution of biological complexity. Recent work has shown game theoretic arguments, commonly used to model biological cooperation, can also illuminate the dynamics of chemical systems. Here we investigate the types of cooperation possible in a real RNA system based on the Azoarcus ribozyme, by constructing a taxonomy of possible cooperative groups. We construct a computational model of this system to investigate the features of the real system promoting cooperation. We find triplet interactions among genotypes are intrinsically biased towards cooperation due to the particular distribution of catalytic rate constants measured empirically in the real system. For other distributions cooperation is less favored. We discuss implications for understanding cooperation as a driver of complexification in the origin of life. View Full-Text
Keywords: cooperation; prebiotic chemistry; taxonomy; ribozymes; RNA; origin of life cooperation; prebiotic chemistry; taxonomy; ribozymes; RNA; origin of life

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Mathis, C.; Ramprasad, S.N.; Walker, S.I.; Lehman, N. Prebiotic RNA Network Formation: A Taxonomy of Molecular Cooperation. Life 2017, 7, 38.

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