Philippe Nghe (ESPCI) est lauréat d’une bourse ERC Consolidator Grant 2020 pour son projet AbioEvo : Conditions for the emergence of evolution during abiogenesis.
La bourse ERC obtenue est dotée d’un budget de 2M€ sur 5 ans, qui permettra le recrutement de plusieurs doctorant-e-s et post-doctorant-e-s.
Résumé : Abiogenesis, the transition from non-living to living matter, is at the core of the origin of life question. However, the dynamical processes underlying abiogenesis remain unknown. The AbioEvo project aims to test the hypothesis that RNA-catalyzed RNA recombination, if coupled with template-based mechanisms, provides a gradual route for the emergence of evolution by natural selection, starting from collective autocatalysis, toward template-based replication. Indeed, recombination allows both self-reproduction and shuffling of other sequences, thus, once combined with templating, provides the basic ingredients of reproduction, heredity and variation required for Darwinian evolution. The project decomposes the problem into five steps: (i) the study of molecular-level mechanisms to generate and stabilize novel sequences by recombination and templating; (ii) collective dynamics integrating these mechanisms into the properties of reproduction with heredity, variation, and selection, in order to establish proof-of-concepts of evolutionary modes; (iii) viability thresholds of recombination-based replicators from increasingly random substrates; (iv) conditions for open-ended evolution toward template-based replication; (v) estimates of thresholds and probabilities of the proposed evolutionary processes. The project would provide first demonstrations of evolution by natural selection from chemistry, gradual and experimentally accessible paths from oligomers to template-based replication, and a method to evaluate prebiotic plausibility from sequence-to-function relationships, kinetics and evolutionary dynamics.
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