Acceleration of Lipid Reproduction by Emergence of Microscopic Motion

Self-reproducing chemical systems are essential for organic matter to reproduce, move and grow. In artificial settings, chemical reactions can show rich dynamics and auto-catalytic characteristics, however achieving higher order functionality from self-reproducing chemical systems remains a current challenge. Here, we show that self-reproducing lipids can initiate, sustain and accelerate the movement of microscopic oil droplets in water and, in return, the chemotactic movement of these droplets significantly accelerates the autocatalytic production of the lipids. As droplet motion accelerates the chemical reaction through active chemotactic movement, a reciprocal, two-way interplay is established across length scales, between bond-forming chemistry at the molecular scale, and droplet motility at the near macroscopic level. This chemo-motile coupling between the self-reproducing chemistry of lipids and the microscopic movement of droplets offers new means of performing work and catalysis in micro-heterogeneous environments.