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Selecting chemical processes and sequences at the molecular origins of life

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SPL - New statistical physics in living matter: non equilibrium states under adaptive control

Phase separation and non-equilibrium conditions such as wet-dry cycles were ubiquitous at the molecular origin of Life. How phase separation affects chemical processes, such as the formation of specific sequences such as DNA or RNA , that are crucial for the RNA world hypothesis, remains elusive. Here, we propose a theory for the kinetics of chemical processes in a non-dilute, phase-separating mixture subject to wet-dry cycles. We show that the cycle frequency strongly affects the chemical turnover. A resonance behavior exists in the cycle frequency where the turnover is maximal. We also use our theory to study the formation of sequences. When sequences phase separate, the sequence distribution is strongly altered. Thus, specific sequences get selected when subject to wet-dry cycles, suggesting a potential mechanism for chemical evolution in prebiotic soups on early Earth.   Co authors: Pranay Jaiswal, Giacomo Bartolucci, Christoph A. Weber.

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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