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Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics of Self-Replicating Protocells

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Preprint
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Submission Date
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arXiv ID: 1503.04683
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arXiv
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Abstract

We provide a non-equilibrium thermodynamic description of the life-cycle of a droplet based, chemically feasible, system of protocells. By coupling the protocells metabolic kinetics with its thermodynamics, we demonstrate how the system can be driven out of equilibrium to ensure protocell growth and replication. This coupling allows us to derive the equations of evolution and to rigorously demonstrate how growth and replication life-cycle can be understood as a non-equilibrium thermodynamic cycle. The process does not appeal to genetic information or inheritance, and is based only on non-equilibrium physics considerations. Our non-equilibrium thermodynamic description of simple, yet realistic, processes of protocell growth and replication, represents an advance in our physical understanding of a central biological phenomenon both in connection to the origin of life and for modern biology.

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