Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 125–141 | Cite as

Simulations of Living Cell Origins Using a Cellular Automata Model

  • Takeshi Ishida
Theoretical Modeling


Understanding the generalized mechanisms of cell self-assembly is fundamental for applications in various fields, such as mass producing molecular machines in nanotechnology. Thus, the details of real cellular reaction networks and the necessary conditions for self-organized cells must be elucidated. We constructed a 2-dimensional cellular automata model to investigate the emergence of biological cell formation, which incorporated a looped membrane and a membrane-bound information system (akin to a genetic code and gene expression system). In particular, with an artificial reaction system coupled with a thermal system, the simultaneous formation of a looped membrane and an inner reaction process resulted in a more stable structure. These double structures inspired the primitive biological cell formation process from chemical evolution stage. With a model to simulate cellular self-organization in a 2-dimensional cellular automata model, 3 phenomena could be realized: (1) an inner reaction system developed as an information carrier precursor (akin to DNA); (2) a cell border emerged (akin to a cell membrane); and (3) these cell structures could divide into 2. This double-structured cell was considered to be a primary biological cell. The outer loop evolved toward a lipid bilayer membrane, and inner polymeric particles evolved toward precursor information carriers (evolved toward DNA). This model did not completely clarify all the necessary and sufficient conditions for biological cell self-organization. Further, our virtual cells remained unstable and fragile. However, the “garbage bag model” of Dyson proposed that the first living cells were deficient; thus, it would be reasonable that the earliest cells were more unstable and fragile than the simplest current unicellular organisms.


Cellular automata model Emergence of life Synthetic life Prebiotic chemistry 



This work was supported by a Japanese government grant (JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 24564061).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Fisheries University, JapanShimonosekiJapan

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