Paper abstract

Comment on "Tibor Gánti and Robert Rosen" by Athel Cornish-Bowden

Wim Hordijk and Mike Steel

Journal of Theoretical Biology 392:122-123, 2015.

In a recent article published in this journal, a comparison is made between Tibor Gánti's chemoton model and Robert Rosen's (M;R) systems. This comparison is very insightful indeed. As the author remarks, these models seem to be two contrasting approaches, but upon closer inspection have more in common than one would initially think.
At the end of the article, the author also briefly mentions related models, such as autopoietic systems and autocatalytic sets. In particular, autocatalytic sets are presented as follows:

"Autocatalytic sets (Kauffman, 1986) are the most different, because all of the others incorporate, at least implicitly, the idea that a minimal self-organizing system must be small, i.e. that it must have a minimum of components. Kauffman, in contrast, made no such condition, but instead imagined self-organization as a property that might arise spontaneously in a system with enough weakly interacting components. As he assumed (reasonably) that the probability that any given component might catalyse a particular condensation reaction would be very small, this inevitably leads to the conclusion that the total number of components must be very large (at least millions) in order to have certainty that every reaction will have a catalyst."
However, work on autocatalytic networks over the past 15 years has clearly established a contrary conclusion: autocatalytic sets of small size are not only predicted, but observed in simulations and the laboratory.