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The amount and value of information in biology

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Abstract

The notion of the value of information is discussed. The value one attributes to information is determined by the result of its reception by an open nonequilibrium system. Qualitative reasoning shows that the concept of value of information makes sense only in nonequilibrium situations, and is directly connected with the nonredundancy of information. In biology it is the value and not the amount of information that is important. The value of information is especially high if there are instabilities in the system; these are connected with the notions of purpose and of freedom of will. The notion of selective value, introduced by Eigen in the theory of the prebiological evolution of macromolecules, is discussed. The amount of information in various codons is calculated and the conventional definition of its value is given based on the determination of the danger of the replacement of one amino acid by another with a different value of hydrophobicity. It is shown that the relative probability of transversion is considerably lower than that of transition. As most nonsense mutations are transversions, the genetic code provides decreased probability for the most dangerous mutations. It is shown that the information of the codonUGG(Trp) is highest in both amount and value.

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Volkenstein, M.V. The amount and value of information in biology. Found Phys 7, 97–109 (1977). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00715244

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Keywords

  • Codon
  • Macromolecule
  • Genetic Code
  • Nonsense Mutation
  • Relative Probability