Open prebiotic environments drive emergent phenomena and complex behavior

Nathaniel Wagner, David Hochberg, Enrique Peacock-Lopez, Indrajit Maity, Gonen Ashkenasy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


We have been studying simple prebiotic catalytic replicating networks as prototypes for modeling replication, complexification and Systems Chemistry. While living systems are always open and function far from equilibrium, these prebiotic networks may be open or closed, dynamic or static, divergent or convergent to a steady state. In this paper we review the properties of these simple replicating networks, and show, via four working models, how even though closed systems exhibit a wide range of emergent phenomena, many of the more interesting phenomena leading to complexification and emergence indeed require open systems.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number45
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Catalytic networks
  • Complexification
  • Emergence
  • Prebiotic replicators
  • Systems chemistry

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Palaeontology
  • Space and Planetary Science


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