Symmetry-breaking in chiral polymerisation
Wattis, Jonathan A.D. and Coveney, Peter V. (2005) Symmetry-breaking in chiral polymerisation. Origins of Life and the Evolution of the Biosphere, 35 (3). pp. 243-273. ISSN 0169-6149
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.
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