Our collaborative research is focused around the concept of autocatalytic sets. An autocatalytic set is a chemical reaction network in which the molecules mutually catalyze each other’s formation from a basic “food” source. In other words, an autocatalytic set is a functionally closed and self-sustaining reaction network.

Autocatalytic sets are believed to be important for life. In particular, a living system produces its own components (from a given food source), in such a way that these components are continuously regenerated, and maintain and regulate the very chemical network that produced them. As such, autocatalytic sets are considered to be an underlying principle of the (chemical) organization of life, and are thus also believed to have played an important role in its origin.

Our work can roughly be divided into three main lines of research:

  1. Theoretical and computational aspects of autocatalytic sets.
  2. Experimental studies on the emergence and evolution of autocatalytic sets.
  3. Closing the gap between theory and experiment.