Existing self‐replicators can direct the emergence of new ones

Y. Altay, Meniz Altay, Sijbren Otto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The study of the interplay between different self‐replicating molecules constitutes an important new phase in the synthesis of life and in unravelling the origin of life. Here we show how existing replicators can direct the nature of a newly formed replicator. Starting from the same building block, 6‐ring replicators formed when the mixture was exposed to pre‐existing 6‐membered replicators, while pre‐formed 8‐membered replicators funneled the building block into 8‐ring replicators. Not only ring size, but also the mode of assembly of the rings into stacks was inherited from the pre‐existing replicators. These results show that the nature of self‐replicating molecules can be strongly influenced by the interplay between different self‐replicators, overriding preferences innate to the structure of the building block.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11911-11915
Number of pages5
JournalChemistry : A European Journal
Issue number46
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • de novo life
  • dynamic combinatorial chemistry
  • origin of life
  • self-replication
  • systems chemistry


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