Steps towards de-novo life: compartmentalization and feedback mechanisms in synthetic self-replicating systems

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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Making artificial (“de-novo”) life from completely synthetic molecules is a challenging endeavour that could help us understand life, detect it, and gain some insight on its origins. The aim of this thesis is to combine in a single system several properties that are fundamental to living systems – specifically self-replication, compartmentalization, and metabolism.

This work is based on self-replicating fibres that emerge from a dynamic combinatorial library. Through the thesis, we study their self-replication mechanism using HS-AFM, use complex coacervates to compartmentalize them, and combine them with photocatalytic cofactors to obtain the first synthetic example of a light-driven protometabolism. Finally, we combine this protometabolic feedback loop with out-of-equilibrium conditions to design a synthetic oscillator.

The results shown here are first steps towards the synthesis of de-novo life, and can lead in the future to more complex processes such as ecological relationships or Darwinian evolution.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Otto, Sijbren, Supervisor
  • Chiechi, Ryan, Supervisor
  • Huck, Wilhelm T.S., Assessment committee, External person
  • Kamperman, M.M.G., Assessment committee, External person
  • Hermans, Thomas M., Assessment committee, External person
Award date15-May-2020
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-94-034-2573-3
Electronic ISBNs978-94-034-2572-6
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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