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Artificial Life

Winter 1998, Vol. 4, No. 1, Pages 25-40
(doi: 10.1162/106454698568422)
© 1998 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Evolving Reaction-Diffusion Ecosystems with Self-Assembling Structures in Thin Films
Article PDF (786.39 KB)

Recently, new types of coupled isothermal polynucleotide amplification reactions for the investigation of in vitro evolution have been established that are based on the multi-enzyme 3SR reaction. Microstructured thin-film open bioreactors have been constructed in our laboratory to run these reactions spatially resolved in flow experiments. Artificial DNA/RNA chemistries close to the in vitro biochemistry of these systems have been developed, which we have studied in computer simulations in configurable hardware (NGEN). These artificial chemistries are described on the level of individual polynucleotide molecules, each with a defined sequence, and their complexes. The key feature of spatial pattern formation provides a weak stabilization of cooperative catalytic properties of the evolving molecules. Of great interest is the step to include extended self-assembly processes of flexible structures—allowing the additional stabilization of cooperation through semipermeable, flexible, self-organizing membrane boundaries. We show how programmable matter simulations of experimentally relevant molecular in vitro evolution can be extended to include the influence of self-assembling flexible membranes.