Article in Science / Biology & Nature / Biocomplexity
A planet history is history of its atoms and molecules. The planet, including life, is built from its atoms and molecules, and understanding the energy-driven dynamics of molecules may provide a critical insight into origin of life, including its interesting experimentation or competition features
 
 
 

Planet history is history of its atoms and molecules. The planet, including life, is built from its atoms and molecules, and understanding the dynamics of molecules may provide a critical insight into origin of life and its dynamics. Long ago S. Boltzmann and, in particular, A. Lotka (for review see [B11]) have pointed to importance of energy flux rate maximization for evolution, however its molecular mechanism remained unclear. Here we discuss the molecular aspects of life origins and life dynamics focusing on interesting experimentation or competition features of molecular dynamics that haven’t been discussed before as far as we know.

If no energy gets supplied, molecular dynamics of a mix of various molecules gets driven by the proper reaction rate constants, and its final result is an equilibrium state. It is not the case for the planet and its biosphere, as there are numerous energy sources - sun, global electromagnetic field, etc. We found that with a permanent energy source, a drastically different non-stop molecular dynamics emerges with an interesting experimentation or competition feature. Exploring its mechanism, we found that it aims to maximize the energy reuse (ER) or minimize energy dissipation. It occurs by competition of reactive molecules for a compatible partner to be attached. This build-up increases the number of degrees of freedom (DoFs) capable to absorb incoming energy and thus make the increasingly larger molecules to dominate over smaller ones. Thus a side effect of this competitive ER dynamics is a building the increasingly complex molecular structures with increasingly better ER.

This seems to be a universal feature of molecular dynamics in an energy-rich environment that “propagates” to all levels of the hierarchy although its expression may be different at different levels. The net result of the experimentation is that energy dissipation in the hierarchy gets minimal by making the molecular substrate structured to keep/reuse energy in a maximal degree. Such a non-stop energy-driven active organization of planetary molecular substrate seems to be a quite unusual thing, very much missed in discussions of life and its origins.

Interestingly, the emerging hierarchy of species with increasingly better ER capabilities has many features of biological evolution from virus to bacteria/archaea to cell to organism. This hypothesis may reveal possible universal precursors of those species and the competitive process which creates the ER hierarchy and the variety of species. From such a perspective, viruses and bacteria get non-stop created by energy-driven molecular experimentation, a permanent driving force in the biosphere.

The proposed description of the planetary geobiochemical dynamics, including biosphere, in terms of maximal ER (or, equivalently, of minimal energy dissipation) may possibly be yet another view of “evolution of species”. According to this model, life is a survival of the best energy re-user vs. survival of the “fittest”. Also it turns out that the biosphere is involved in an energy-driven non-stop material and structural turnover. Applications of competitive molecular dynamics for synthesis of fuels, drugs, and the ready-to-be used end-user ‘things’ is a promising area of research.

The details of processes and mechanisms mentioned in this Summary, as well as the further references, can be found in [B11]

[B11] Bykovsky, V.K. “Molecular Experimentation and Evolutionary Biology”, In: The International Conference on Complex Systems(ICCS), Boston, June-25, 2011, The ICCS Proceedings, pp.1180-1194, 2011

http://necsi.edu/events/iccs2011/papers/36.pdf

 

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About the Author 

Val Bykhovsky
MS in Theoretical Chemistry, PhD in Physics and Appl Math from Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Chem. Physics, Moscow, Nat.Center

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Molecular Experimentation and Evolutionary Biology

A planet history is history of its atoms and molecules. The planet, including life, is built from its atoms and molecules, and understanding the energy-driven dynamics of molecules may provide a critical insight into origin of life, including its interesting experimentation or competition features

 
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