First published 30 July 2014
A Hybrid Off/On-Lattice Model of Emergence and Maintenance Autopoiesis
Olivier Wang, René Doursat and Paul Bourgine
We propose an original 2D agent-based model of biological "autopoiesis," the process by which a cell creates and continuously regenerates itself, considered one of the defining characteristics of life. In the space of our simulations, the positions of free molecules are continuous, and polymerized membrane components are regularly arranged (plus noise). While autopoiesis commonly refers to the self-driven maintenance of a system, we also follow Varela's historical study of emergence, and show that the same model can account for both self-perpetuation and self-formation—a step toward uniting the three main perspectives on life: origins, autopoiesis, and replication. Exploring different initial and environmental conditions, we observe that destructive reactions are important for the survival of our autopoietic system, and evaluate their impact on its lifespan. The tendency of cells to form spurious outgrowths is counteracted by moderate decay of the membrane.