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Orig Life Evol Biosph. 2005 Jun;35(3):243-73.

Symmetry-breaking in chiral polymerisation.

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Theoretical Mechanics, School of Mathematical Sciences, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK.


We propose a model for chiral polymerisation and investigate its symmetric and asymmetric solutions. The model has a source species which decays into left- and right-handed types of monomer, each of which can polymerise to form homochiral chains; these chains are susceptible to 'poisoning' by the opposite-handed monomer. Homochiral polymers are assumed to influence the proportion of each type of monomer formed from the precursor. We show that for certain parameter values a positive feedback mechanism makes the symmetric steady-state solution unstable. The kinetics of polymer formation are then analysed in the case where the system starts from zero concentrations of monomers and chains. We show that following a long induction time, extremely large concentrations of polymers are formed for a short time, during this time an asymmetry introduced into the system by a random external perturbation may be massively amplified. The system then approaches one of the steady-state solutions described above.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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