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What Wilhelm Ostwald meant by “Autokatalyse” and its significance to origins-of-life research

Peng, Zhen; Paschek, Klaus; Xavier, Joana C; (2022) What Wilhelm Ostwald meant by “Autokatalyse” and its significance to origins-of-life research. BioEssays , 44 (9) , Article e2200098. 10.1002/bies.202200098. Green open access

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Abstract

A closer look at Wilhelm Ostwald's articles that originally proposed the concept of autocatalysis reveals that he accepted reactants, not just products, as potential autocatalysts. Therefore, that a process is catalyzed by some of its products, which is the common definition of autocatalysis, is only a proper subset of what Ostwald meant by "Autokatalyse." As a result, it is necessary to reconsider the definition of autocatalysis, which is especially important for origins-of-life research because autocatalysis provides an abiotic mechanism that yields reproduction-like dynamics. Here, we translate and briefly review the two key publications on autocatalysis by Ostwald to revive his understanding of autocatalysis, and we introduce the concepts of recessive and expansive autocatalysis. Then we discuss the twofold significance of such a revival: first, facilitating the search for candidate processes underlying the origins of life, and second, updating our view of autocatalysis in complex reaction networks and metabolism.

Type: Article
Title: What Wilhelm Ostwald meant by “Autokatalyse” and its significance to origins-of-life research
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/bies.202200098
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1002/bies.202200098
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and condition
Keywords: autocatalysis, chemical reaction networks, metabolism, origins of life, Wilhelm Ostwald
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10155514
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