Autocatalytic sets in E. coli metabolism

A new autocatalytic sets paper was just published in the Journal of Systems Chemistry. In this paper, co-authors Sousa, Hordijk, Steel, and Martin show that the metabolic network of E. coli forms an autocatalytic set. They also perform several analyses to investigate the robustness and modularity of this set. These results provide the first real (and formal) proof that living systems are indeed autocatalytic sets.

F. L. Sousa, W. Hordijk, M. Steel and W. F. Martin. Autocatalytic sets in E. coli metabolism. Journal of Systems Chemistry 6:4, 2015.

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Permission to use Escher image

We now have official permission from the M.C. Escher Company to use part of Escher’s ‘Metamorphosis II’ print in the banner of our website. We felt that the left part of this image forms an appropriate graphical metaphor for how the chaotic primordial soup “metamorphosed” into structured chemical networks, which eventually gave rise to living entities, all in an almost inevitable and highly organized way.

The original (full) image can be seen on the website of the M.C. Escher Company. With thanks for their kind permission.

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Interview with Kauffman

A whirlwind interview with Stuart Kauffman appeared in Scientific American recently, as part of John Horgan’s weekly column. Horgan seems to be stepping back a bit from his earlier, rather harsh, criticism of complexity science. This interview covers a wide spectrum of scientific topics, including the work on autocatalytic sets by Kauffman and others from our collaboration.

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New paper out

A perspectives paper on “autocatalytic sets and boundaries” was just published in the Journal of Systems Chemistry. In this paper, co-authors Hordijk & Steel explore the relationship between autopoietic systems, the chemoton model, and autocatalytic sets in more detail. They also describe a possible mechanism for the emergence of higher-level autocatalytic sets by considering “boundaries” (such as cell membranes) as additional catalysts.

W. Hordijk and M. Steel. Autocatalytic sets and boundaries. Journal of Systems Chemistry 6:1, 2015.

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Preliminary website available

A preliminary version of the COOLscience Club website is now available. Please check back regularly for updates.

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