CRC 235 Emergence of Life

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Symmetry Breaking by Consecutive Amplification: Efficient Paths to Homochirality

L. Huber 2022 Orig Life Evol Biosph


Laura Huber and Oliver Trapp

Orig Life Evol Biosph


To understand chiral symmetry breaking on the molecular level, we developed a method to efficiently investigate reaction kinetics of single molecules. The model systems include autocatalysis as well as a reaction cascade to gain further insight into the prebiotic origin of homochirality. The simulated reactions start with a substrate and only a single catalyst molecule, and the occurrence of symmetry breaking was examined for its degree of dependence on randomness. The results demonstrate that interlocking processes, which e.g., form catalysts, autocatalytic systems, or reaction cascades that build on each other and lead to a kinetic acceleration, can very well amplify a statistically occurring symmetry breaking. These results suggest a promising direction for the experimental implementation and identification of such processes, which could have led to a shift out of thermodynamic equilibrium in the emergence of life.