Modelling Protocells

The Emergent Synchronization of Reproduction and Molecular Replication

  • Roberto Serra
  • Marco Villani

Part of the Understanding Complex Systems book series (UCS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Roberto Serra, Marco Villani
    Pages 1-14
  3. Roberto Serra, Marco Villani
    Pages 15-27
  4. Roberto Serra, Marco Villani
    Pages 29-59
  5. Roberto Serra, Marco Villani
    Pages 61-104
  6. Roberto Serra, Marco Villani
    Pages 105-147
  7. Roberto Serra, Marco Villani
    Pages 149-167
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 169-182

About this book


The monograph discusses models of synthetic protocells, which are cell-like structures obtained from non-living matter endowed with some rudimentary kind of metabolism and genetics, but much simpler than biological cells. They should grow and proliferate, generating offsprings that resemble in some way the parent protocells with some variation, so that selection may take place. Sustainable protocell populations have not yet been obtained experimentally and mathematical models are therefore extremely important to address key questions concerning their synthesis and behavior. Different protocell “architectures” have been proposed and high-level abstract models like those that are presented in this book are particularly relevant to gain a better understanding of the different properites. These models are able to treat all the major dynamical phenomena in a unified framework, so they can be seen as “virtual laboratories” for protocell research. Particular attention is paid to the problem of synchronization of the fission rate of the whole protocell and the duplication rate of its "protogenetic" material, which is shown to be an emergent property that spontaneously develops in successive generations.

The book is of interest for a broad range of scientists working in soft matter physics, chemistry and biology, interested in the role protocells may play on the development of new technologies with medical, environmental and industrial applications as well as scientists interested in the origin of life.


Autocatalytic Set Cell Evolution Emergent Properties Genetic Memory Internal Reaction Models Lipid Vesicles Models of Replicators Dynamics Origins of Life Protocell Architectures Surface Reaction Models RAF sets Reflexive Autocatalytic Food-Generated sets Kauffman random topologies synchronization autocatalytic cycle abiogenesis composome chemostat

Authors and affiliations

  • Roberto Serra
    • 1
  • Marco Villani
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Physics, Informatics and MathematicsUniversity of Modena and Reggio EmiliaModenaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Physics, Informatics and MathematicsUniversity of Modena & Reggio Emilia ModenaItaly

Bibliographic information

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