Gulliver Seminar : Robert Pascal (Université Aix Marseille)

Lundi 28 novembre de 11h30 à 12h30 - Bibliothèque PCT - F3.04

Connecting energy dissipation and biological evolution

Building life from chemical components constitutes the main goal of synthetic biology. But it turns out that the mass of information gained in molecular biology since the discovery of the structure of nucleic acids is not sufficient to reach the goal of building a simple system reproducing features of life. A success in this attempt would actually require a sufficient understanding of the functional interlocking through which the different processes cooperate to maintain the overall system in the living state. The main reason for this difficulty probably lies in the complexity of living organisms involving highly interconnected processes from which the essential principles can hardly be drawn. An alternative would be to study physico-chemical processes displaying elementary features of life to disclose the physical driving forces that underpin the living state and its evolution. My presentation will focus on an attempt to precisely assign the roles of thermodynamics and kinetics in these processes by identifying the way through which dissipation, reproduction and irreversibility can timely cooperate to reproduce features of natural selection. This approach allows identifying quantitative kinetic constraints defining the domain in which dissipation can allow self-organization to proceed in a productive way. It also emphasizes the essential role of metabolism in this process that is therefore not limited to the synthesis of biochemical players involved in the system.