The Theory of Chemical Symbiosis: A Margulian View for the Emergence of Biological Systems

Acta Biotheoretica 69 (1):67-78 (2020)
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Abstract

The theory of chemical symbiosis suggests that biological systems started with the collaboration of two polymeric molecules existing in early Earth: nucleic acids and peptides. Chemical symbiosis emerged when RNA-like nucleic acid polymers happened to fold into 3D structures capable to bind amino acids together, forming a proto peptidyl-transferase center. This folding catalyzed the formation of quasi-random small peptides, some of them capable to bind this ribozyme structure back and starting to form an initial layer that would produce the larger subunit of the ribosome by accretion. TCS suggests that there is no chicken-and-egg problem into the emergence of biological systems as RNAs and peptides were of equal importance to the origin of life. Life has initially emerged when these two macromolecules started to interact in molecular symbiosis. Further, we suggest that life evolved into progenotes and cells due to the emergence of new layers of symbiosis. Mutualism is the strongest force in biology, capable to create novelties by emergent principles; on which the whole is bigger than the sum of the parts. TCS aims to apply the Margulian view of biology into the origins of life field.

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