A Caltech Library Service

Simple Evolution of Complex Crystal Species

Schulman, Rebecca and Winfree, Erik (2011) Simple Evolution of Complex Crystal Species. In: DNA Computing and Molecular Programming. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. No.6518. Springer , Berlin, pp. 147-161. ISBN 978-3-642-18304-1.

Full text is not posted in this repository. Consult Related URLs below.

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Cairns-Smith has proposed that life began as structural patterns in clays that self-replicated during cycles of crystal growth and fragmentation. Complex, evolved crystal forms could then have catalyzed the formation of a more advanced genetic material. A crucial weakness of this theory is that it is unclear how complex crystals might arise through Darwinian selection. Here we investigate whether complex crystal patterns could evolve using a model system for crystal growth, DNA tile crystals, that is amenable to both theoretical and experimental inquiry. It was previously shown that in principle, the evolution of crystals assembled from a set of thousands of DNA tiles under very specific environmental conditions could produce arbitrarily complex patterns. Here we show that evolution driven only by the dearth of one monomer type could produce complex crystals from just 12 monomer types. The proposed mechanism of evolution is simple enough to test experimentally and is sufficiently general that it may apply to other DNA tile crystals or even to natural crystals, suggesting that complex crystals could evolve from simple starting materials because of relative differences in concentrations of the materials needed for growth.

Item Type:Book Section
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Winfree, Erik0000-0002-5899-7523
Additional Information:© 2011 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
Series Name:Lecture Notes in Computer Science
Issue or Number:6518
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20111025-131913963
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:27411
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:26 Oct 2011 16:13
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 03:23

Repository Staff Only: item control page