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PDF 5.2 MB
Pages 216–223
First published 20 July 2015

Ontogeny and adaptivity in a model protocell

Eran Agmon, Alexander J. Gates, and Randall D. Beer

Abstract (Excerpt)

Viability, ontogeny, and adaptivity have been widely discussed within the context of emergent individuality. This paper provides an initial step towards a more formal treatment of these concepts. A network of possible ontogenies is uncovered by subjecting a model protocell to sequential perturbations, and mapping the resulting structural configurations. The analysis of this network reveals trends in how the protocell can move between configurations, how its morphology changes, and how the role of the environment varies throughout. Viability is defined as expected lifespan given an initial configuration. This leads to two notions of adaptivity: a local adaptivity that addresses how viability changes in plastic transitions, and a global adaptivity that looks at longer-term tendencies for increased viability. The mechanisms of a minimal adaptive transition are analyzed, and it is shown that these rely on distributed spatial processes rather than an explicit regulatory mechanism.