Publications - Published papers

Please find below publications of our group. Currently, we list 496 papers. Some of the publications are in collaboration with the group of Sonja Prohaska and are also listed in the publication list for her individual group. Access to published papers (access) is restricted to our local network and chosen collaborators. If you have problems accessing electronic information, please let us know:

©NOTICE: All papers are copyrighted by the authors; If you would like to use all or a portion of any paper, please contact the author.

Early Replicons: Origin and Evolution

Peter Schuster and Peter F Stadler


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Origin and Evolution of Viruses (Second Edition), Esteban Domingo, Colin R. Parrish, John J. Holland (eds); Academic press 2008, pp 1-41


RNA and protein molecules were found to be both templates for replication and specific catalysts for biochemical reactions. RNA molecules, although very difficult to obtain via plausible synthetic pathways under prebiotic conditions, are the only candidates for early replicons. Only they are obligatory templates for replication, which can conserve mutations and propagate them to forthcoming generations. RNA based catalysts, called ribozymes, act with high efficiency and specificity for all classes of reactions involved in the interconversion of RNA molecules such as cleavage and template assisted ligation. The idea of an <i>RNA world</i> was conceived for a plausible prebiotic scenario of RNA molecules operating upon each other and constituting thereby a functional molecular organization. A theoretical account on molecular replication making precise the conditions under which one observes parabolic, exponential or hyperbolic growth is presented. Exponential growth is observed in a protein assisted RNA world where plus-minus-duplex formation is avoided by the action of an RNA replicase. Error propagation to forthcoming generations is analyzed in absence of selective neutral mutants as well as for predefined degrees of neutrality. The concept of an error threshold for sufficiently precise replication and survival of populations derived from the theory of molecular quasispecies is discussed. Computer simulations are used to model the interplay between adaptive evolution and random drift. A model of evolution is proposed that allows for explicit handling of phenotypes.


Origin of Life, replicon, replicator, quasispecies, hypercycle, dynamical systems