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Schwarz et al.pdf (15.53 MB)

Parasitic Behavior in Competing Chemically Fueled Reaction Cycles

submitted on 23.02.2021, 12:06 and posted on 24.02.2021, 05:47 by Patrick Schwarz, Sudarshana Laha, Jacqueline Janssen, Tabea Huss, Job Boekhoven, Christoph Weber
Non-equilibrium reaction cycles serve as model systems of the intricate reaction networks of life. Rich and dynamic behavior is observed when such reaction cycles regulate assembly processes, such as phase separation. However, it remains unclear how the interplay between multiple reaction cycles affects the success of such assemblies. To tackle this question, we created a library of molecules that compete for a common fuel that transiently activates products. Often, the competition for fuel implies that a competitor decreases the lifetime of these products. However, in cases where the transient competitor product can phase separate, such a competitor can increase the survival time of one product. Moreover, in the presence of oscillatory fueling, the same mechanism reduces variations in the product concentration while the concentration variations of the competitor product are enhanced. Like a parasite, the product benefits from the protection of the host against deactivation and increases its robustness against fuel variations at the expense of the robustness of the host. Such a parasitic behavior in multiple fuel-driven reaction cycles represents a lifelike trait, paving the way for the bottom-up design of synthetic life.


J.B. is grateful for funding by the Technical University of Mu-nich – Institute for Advanced Study, funded by the German Excellence Initiative and the European Union Seventh Frame-work Programme under grant agreement n°291763. This re-search was conducted within the Max Planck School Matter to Life supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in collaboration with the Max Planck Soci-ety. J.B and P.S.S are grateful for the funding by the European Research Council (ERC starting grant 852187).


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Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems



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Declaration of Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no competing financial interest.