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Systemic approach to the origin of life.


The formation of the fundamental properties of biological systems is the focus of the suggested systemic approach to the origin of life. In the initial part of the paper, four key and 31 other fundamental biological properties are substantiated. Analysis of these fundamental properties leads to the understanding of stabilized bifurcation as a starting point of life. A prebiotic microsystem, being simultaneously at the prebifurcate and postbifurcate states (bistate system), is the prototype of a living organism. Oscillations between the opposite states generate a continuous reorganization in the microsystem and provide its ability to evolve. It was shown how key and fundamental properties of biological systems had been forming since the inversion of the universal processes in the prebiotic microsystems.

I. Introduction

The origin of life problem has been investigated mainly in the context of the prebiotic chemical evolution since the classical works by Aleksandr Oparin. This broad approach to the origin of life could be called chemical. Various kinds of organic microsystems have been considered as possible prebiotic models (matrixes): RNA-World macromolecules (Gilbert, Joice), micelles and vesicles (Deamer, Luisi), proteinoide microspheres (Fox, Dose), coacervates (Oparin), marigranules (Ventilla, Egami), etc. These microsystems demonstrate some signs of the internal and external activity (catalytic activity, ability to self-replicate, ability to grow and selectively assimilate substance, and so on). However, a common property of all the prebiotic microsystems is their disability to transform the initial signs of activity into the selfmaintaining processes (metabolism, natural self-replication), which are characteristic of life. That is a principal gap separating the prebiotic models from the living cells. Primary features of activity are fading away in the prebiotic microsystems in time, while a transition from the chemical evolution to the biological one evidently assumes their strengthening, up to the following development of the self-maintaining dynamic processes in them. This insuperable gap is truly an obstacle to further development in the frames of the chemical approach. It evidently shows us that prebiotic

microsystems and living beings are fundamentally different types of systems, in spite of their rather close chemical composition. This is the reason why we have to consider the origin of life from the systemic rather than chemical point of view. According to the systemic point of view, living beings with the environment are considered to be a definite type of natural systems. On the one hand, any system can be characterized by its fundamental properties, and conversely through its principal distinctions from the other systems. The systemic approach implies a clarification of the following aspects:

1. Distinguishing the fundamental properties (features), which characterize the biological type of natural systems.

2. Formulation of clear distinctions between properties of the biological and non-biological natural systems.

3. Explanation of how the fundamental properties of biological systems, defining a general way of their organization, could form. The author considered the first and second aspects in his previous works. (1) The third aspect is in the focus of this paper.

Some basic terminology used in this paper translates into a broader sense. The following definitions explain the author's interpretations:

Media--a media strictly in the physical sense, without influence of life.

Environment--a media transformed by life.

Surroundings, outside world--general terms, meaning the space beyond a system.

Biotic system--a living being or a community considered independently of the environment.

Biological system, or biosystem--a biotic system being considered with its environment.

Geosystem--a geological (geochemical) system.

Bioproperty--a property (feature) of a biological system.

Fundamental bioproperties--bioproperties peculiar to any biosystem, which form a background of the biological organization.

II. Fundamental Properties Characteristic of a Biological System

1. Four Key Bioproperties

This section is a summary of the previous works by the author.1 Biological systems were separated from the inanimate systems by means of two lines (Fig. 1). In drawing the first separating line, the original classification of natural systems has been used. A principal criterion of the classification is the availability of surplus or deficit of free energy in a system with respect to its surroundings, i.e. the gradient of free energy between them. By means of this criterion, natural systems can be united into two vast groups: 1) active systems with an excess of free energy with respect to the surroundings, capable to carry out work in the outside world (stars, active planets, magmatic and hydrothermal systems, all biological and social systems); 2) passive systems, which do not possess an excess of free energy, unable to execute work in the surroundings without application of the external forces -black holes, cosmic dust clouds, massifs of igneous rocks, stones and crystals, etc. (Table 1). Active systems possess three principal features that distinguish them from passive systems: availability of a surplus of free energy with respect to the surroundings; self-complication of the internal structure at the ascending branch of their existence; active exchange of energy and matter (as well as information) with the outside world. These three features allow us to draw a separating line between active and passive systems (line 1, Fig. 1). Being a type of active natural systems, biosystems possess these properties, which differentiate them from all the passive systems.


The second separating line, just between biological and non-biological active systems, is drawn on the bases of the analysis of the universal spontaneous (basic)--non-spontaneous (coupled) processes. A change of balance between these processes is responsible for the change of the amount of free energy and entropy in a system. Spontaneous processes lead to the increase of entropy and chaos in a system, while non-spontaneous ones--to the increase of free energy, information and the level of organization. Basic processes proceed by themselves, decreasing the initial energy gradients and lead to a transition of a system to the most probable state. Coupled ones reinforce the initial energy gradients, promoting a transition of a system to the least probable state, and demand an expenditure of energy. Opposite directions in a change of the gradient is the best criterion to distinguish these types of processes. The total balance -summary energy effect of the coupled processes (E+) to the summary energy effect of the basic processes (E-)- can be considered as a principal characteristic of a natural system. A positive balance (E+ > E-) means that free energy increases and entropy decreases in a system (or free energy increases faster than entropy increases). And vice versa. The viability of a biological system strictly depends on the total power balance. The process of the free energy extraction from the environment corresponds to a positive balance of a biosystem (E+ > E-). The positive energy balance supports the viability of a biosystem and provides a tendency to sustainable development. The negative balance (E+ < E-) leads to the degradation and the following extinction of a biosystem due to the natural selection.

In summarizing the considered data, four key unique properties of biosystems can be distinguished from the dozens of properties, which were substantiated by various scientists. These properties allow us to draw the second separating line between the animate and inanimate nature (Fig. 1). The first key unique bioproperty is an ability for the accumulation of free energy (negentropy) and information by means of their extraction from the environment, at the expense of the own activity of a biosystem. Active nonbiological systems also possess a surplus of free energy, but all of them do NOT extract actively free energy from the surroundings. On the contrary, they give up their energy to the surroundings. The second key unique bioproperty is the aptitude of the biotic system for the intensified counteraction to an external action (influence). According to the Le Chatelier principle, any influence on a system, executing by means of change of the external conditions, initiates a counteraction of the system. Passive and active nonbiological systems do not possess the internal mechanism that could strengthen a counteraction to the initial external action. Unlike them, biosystems possess a property of the active counteraction, or the intensified reaction to an external action.

The third key unique bioproperty is the expedient behavior, or the expedient character of the interaction of a biotic system with the environment. The high energy level of a responding reaction is an insufficient condition for the sustainable development of a living being. A biotic system must possess one more necessary property--the ability to coordinate its behaviour, in order to achieve the most favorable conditions for its existence. The most precise term to designate this feature is 'expediency'. Expedient behavior is based on the information, which accumulates in biotic systems. The fourth key unique bioproperty is regular self-renovation. Self-renovating (nonspontaneous) processes prevail over destructive (spontaneous) processes in the viable living systems, so the self-renovation is an inevitable result of the biological way of organization. The self-renovation proceeds at different levels: intra-cellular (restoration of nucleotide chains, renovation of proteins), intra-organismic (self-replication of DNA, self-renovation of cells), intra-specific (self-reproduction of organisms), intra-biospheric (self-renovation of species).

2. Derivative Unique Properties (DUP) of Biological Systems

To check an objectivity of the distinguished key properties of biosystems, it would be reasonable to compare them with several dozens of properties, which were distinguished by other investigators of this problem. The book, Fundamentals of Life (2) (proceedings of the Workshop on Life, Modena, Italy) is the latest summarization in the field of fundamental biology. The book contains 78 short definitions of life and 25 selected fundamental papers. More or less, definite properties of life are substantiated in 63 of the short definitions and papers (the list of these authors is given below Table 3). In general, the authors have suggested about 230 properties (features); but it is very often that these properties, which were proposed by different authors, are identical or similar. On the whole, 31 fundamental properties of biosystems can be compiled on the basis of this data (the analysis was carried out by the author). Only 19 of them can be considered as the unique fundamental properties of biosystems, which are not peculiar to any other natural system (Table 2). The remaining 12 are attributed to the non-unique fundamental properties. These or similar features sometimes display themselves in few non-biological systems, although they are devoid of any biological specificity (Table 3).

Thus, there are two sets of the unique properties, which belong to biosystems. The first one consists of four key properties as formulated above; the second contains the opinions of 63 researchers, which includes the 19 properties. The correlation between these sets is presented in Table 2. This table shows us four key properties in the initial set and 19 properties in the second one. This is why the key properties in the first set can be called integrated, while the properties in the second derivative (DUP), or particular. Brief comments that argue the correlation are adduced in the forth column of the table. The derivative property either directly fits into one of the key properties, or represents the inevitable consequence of it.

3. Non-unique Properties (NUP) of Biological Systems

The remainder of the 12 fundamental properties of biosystems, which the author defines as non-unique (NUP), are formulated in Table 3. These properties show us that there is not an absolutely strict boundary between animate and inanimate systems: nature is a single whole. Examples of the non-biological systems, also possessing similar properties, as well as some necessary comments, are given in the table, too. The non-unique bioproperties can be united into three groups.

The first group concerns the peculiarities of composition of biosystems (1st-4th NUP): chemical composition of carbon-based polymers; availability of membranes; optical activity of molecules. One more important bioproperty- chemical polarity of the compounds and structures (water and hydrofuge organics, alkaline and acid parts of amino acids, polypeptide and polynucleotide chains)- was added to this group by the author. Some organic microsystems, which are often considered to be the prebiotic chemical models, also possess these properties. The second group consists of the 5th-9th properties, which display themselves in the existence of various non-biological active and sometimes passive systems (stars, magmatic chambers, crystals, etc.). They are as follows: ability for growth, heredity, ability to carry and accumulate information, continuous rearrangement of molecules, and the life (existence) cycle. Although these features are also peculiar to some non-biological systems, it is only in the biosystems that they display a high level of organization (complexity) and always possess the biological specificity. The last 10th-12th properties are referred to as the third group. These properties embrace the peculiarities of integration of molecules/ structures and the processes in biosystems: thermodynamic and chemical nonequilibrium; integrity of structures; capability for self-organization. They characterize a very interesting class of the dissipative structures (systems) that will be considered below.

4. Point L as a Central Link between the Inanimate and Animate Nature

Let us consider the gap between the inanimate and animate parts of nature in the focus of the unique and non-unique bioproperties. The unique bioproperties are the new properties of natural systems, which appeared soon after the overcoming of the gap. These properties form the barrier that strictly separates the living systems from the non-living ones (Fig. 2a). The non-unique bioproperties are transitional properties. They were preserved during a transition from the non-living to living systems, although they acquired the biological specificity. The entity of nature is emphasized by these properties. The considered fundamental properties lead us to the conclusion that there is a certain unknown point of transformation in the center of the gap. At that point, the transitional properties obtain their biological specificity, leading to the new proper biological properties. The prebiotic microsystems, which had undergone the transformation of the kind, formed the initial biological systems. That point can be called the starting point of life, or just Point L (Fig. 2a).


III. Geological Cradle of Life

The cradle of life is a geological system(s), which is maternal for the initial living microorganisms and their environment. In order to define the geological cradle of life (the Cradle), all the geological macrosystems of the Earth were taken into consideration. Then, step by step, geological macrosystems unfit for the origin of life were removed from further analysis, according to the selected criteria. Finally, the geological cradle of life is outlined at three hierarchical levels (Fig. 2b): the frame Cradle, i.e. a general geological macrosystem which was maternal for the origin of life (area A); local zones in the frame Cradle, characterizing with the most appropriate conditions for the origin of life (area B); temporal geochemical/geophysical situations in the local zones that immediately preceded a transition of some prebiotic microsystems over Point L (area C).

Four sets of the criteria were selected to distinguish the Cradle from the other geological media of the planet. The first set includes three well-known necessary conditions for the origin of life: aqueous media, available organic compounds, and a source of energy. One more condition was added to the set by the author: significant (strong) thermodynamic and physic-chemical fluctuations in the media. (3-5) The second set contains three principal distinctive features of active natural systems, which differs them from passive systems. The third set includes the four key (or 19 derivative) bioproperties, which were formulated above. The fourth set consists of the 12 non-unique bioproperties.

The biosphere embraces three planetary geospheres: the hydrosphere, the lower part of the atmosphere and the upper part of the lithosphere. A profusion of geological systems of various ranks exist in this near-surface planetary zone. A necessity of the aqueous media for the origin of life is evident; thus, all of the non-aqueous media are excluded from the further analysis. The aqueous geosystems are multiform. Oceans, seas, rivers, lakes and pools represent the hydrosphere. The lithosphere contains the groundwater systems and hydrothermal systems, which come out on the surface as springs, pools, and geysers. The clouds and rain systems belong to the atmospheric aqueous geosystems. The second and the third main conditions for the origin of life--availability of organic compounds and source of energy--cannot serve as reliable criteria. Thus, the organic compounds could be synthesized in an ocean, a hydrothermal system, the atmosphere, or to be delivered from the cosmos. The fourth main condition--significant fluctuations in the media--is still not generally accepted. Nevertheless, this is an important criterion that restricts the number of aqueous geosystems, related to the cradle of life. Of all the aqueous geosystems, strong fluctuations of the thermodynamic and physic-chemical parameters are generated only in hydrothermal systems. Permanent fluctuations in hydrothermal systems are maintained by the contradictory interaction between rising hydrodynamic and descending lithostatic pressures.

The most substantial criterion of the third set is the second unique bioproperty--the ability for the intensified counteraction. This property indicates a general mechanism that provides a biotic system with the ability to accumulate free energy. Energy of the external action stimulates the internal processes within a living organism. Due to its specific organization, a living organism is able to transform the power impulse and to execute the following intensified counteraction. The difference between the energy of the intensified counteraction and the energy of the initial external action represent the energy profit of a biotic system. An organism must, at least, experience regular and significant external influences to extract free energy (as well as information) from the environment. The absence of the external influences provides no chance to obtain the energy profit. Any influence signifies a change of conditions in the environment. In this way, the permanent changes or fluctuations in the environment are necessary for biotic systems, since they support life. The fourth set of the criteria provides us with more arguments to consider, such as the consideration of hydrothermal systems as a maternal media for primary microorganisms. The fundamental non-unique bioproperties, like ability for growth, continuous transformation and rearrangement of the molecules are peculiar to hydrothermal systems, too. But these properties are not characteristic features of ocean and other passive aqueous geosystems. The third group of the non-unique properties, concerning the self-organization under the far from equilibrium conditions, closely relates hydrothermal to biological systems, especially.

Conclusion. In accordance with the four selected sets of criteria, hydrothermal systems are the most suitable maternal geosystem for the origin of life. Hydrothermal systems and the adjoining aqueous media (ocean or terrestrial groundwater system), where the influence of hydrothermal fluctuations is substantial, are considered to be the frame geological cradle of life by the author (area A, Fig. 2b). First the hypothesis concerning the relationship between submarine hot springs and the origin of life was substantiated by Corliss, etal. (6)

In order to localize the frame Cradle, let us define a set of conditions, which could serve as a basis for the origin of primary biosystems. The range of temperature most suitable for the origin of life can be evaluated as 50-150[degrees]C. According to 16S r-tRNA analysis, hyperthermophiles Archaea and Bacteria are at the root of the Phylogenetic Tree. (7,8) The hyperthermophiles grow at the minimum temperature 50-80[degrees]C to the maximum index 121[degrees]C. The optimum temperature range for the synthesis of polynucleotide chains in Vitro is 50-60[degrees]C. The temperature below 50[degrees]C seems less appropriate for the origin of biosystems, because low-temperature hydrothermal systems are usually characterized by a slight scale of fluctuations.

The local zones restrict a set of conditions inside the Cradle, where three of the four main conditions are available for the origin of life: aqueous media, organic matter, and geochemical source of energy. The fourth condition--significant thermodynamic and physic-chemical fluctuations (or oscillations)--is less definite, and demands a special discussion. The space of the geological cradle of life is very heterogeneous, and is characterized here and there by very high power gradients, which define a scale of the fluctuations.

A scale of fluctuations is higher in part-open hydrothermal systems, which periodically connects with the surface. Any opening or crack in a part-open hydrothermal system leads to an immediate fall in pressure and temperature. Simultaneously there occurs dissolution of one set of the chemical compounds and a precipitation of another set, with the following continuous change in the structure of hydrothermal solution. Quite often this process is pulsing, the parameters oscillating around the average values. Fluctuations are stimulated by volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Some examples of fluctuations in various hydrothermal systems are given in Figure 3. An important aim of further theoretical, empirical and experimental investigations is to define the corridor of fluctuations (parameters, amplitudes, frequencies) that are the most suitable for the origin of life. Probably, it was very narrow. A diversity of conditions exists in the Cradle, and it is a rare case that a combination of the appropriate factors, optimum for the origin of life could be achieved.


Therefore, the optimum combination could not be preserved for a long geological time, taking into account very changeable conditions in the hydrothermal media. Such a temporal geological situation, which has all the necessary conditions for a transition of prebiotic microsystems into probionts, is placed at the top of the hierarchical scheme of the Cradle (Fig. 2b, area C).

IV. Starting Point of Life: Theoretical Analysis

1. Revolutionary Transformations of Natural Systems as a Bifurcation There are two opposite types, or mechanisms of evolution of natural systems. The first one consists in continuous accumulation of small changes in a system. Charles Darwin especially emphasized the significance of the accumulation of small changes in biological evolution, which is why this mechanism is called 'the Darwin's' according to Moiseev. (9) The second mechanism is a revolutionary one and leads to radical transformation in a system's structure; this mechanism is called a bifurcation. A bifurcation occurs when a system cannot develop further, because its potential for development under given conditions has been exhausted. After bifurcation, the system that follows can be united into three principal trends: full destruction (Trend A, Fig. 4a); simplification and degradation (Trend B); radical complication and transition to much higher level of functioning through self-organization (Trend C). Prof. Illya Prigogine (10) fundamentally investigated the bifurcate mechanism of evolution; therefore, the author suggests it be called 'the Prigogine's'.


A great difference between biological and non-biological systems implies a radical transformation of the prebiotic microsystems, which occurred with the origin of life. That is why the mechanism of bifurcation is most interesting for the study of this problem. The bifurcate transitions were investigated in the framework of the theory of dissipative structures created by Prigogine and his followers. (10,11) All the biological and social systems, as well as some chemical and physical systems (Benard cells, oscillatory chemical reactions, a laser, etc.), belong to a wide class of dissipative structures. Dissipative structures can originate only under nonequilibrium conditions, far from equilibrium.

It is possible to formulate common peculiarities of a bifurcate transition on the basis of fundamental works. (10-12) Acertain chemical system exists under some definite stable conditions; each molecule of such a system is bound with the adjacent molecules by short-range chemical links, providing the system preserves its equilibrium state. The prebifurcate period starts as soon as the balance in the system is upset, due to external or internal changes. It is characterized by the increase of tension and amplification of fluctuations throughout the system, which resulted in the utmost range of fluctuations, by the point of bifurcation. Near the bifurcation point, fluctuations become abnormally strong, the nonlinearity of the processes increasing rapidly. At the bifurcation point, a sharp spatial-temporal heterogeneousness appears in the system, its former structure destroyed. An integrated organization of the system forms, due to the newly appeared long-range spatial correlations between all the molecules: the particles start perceiving each other at the macroscopic distance. Besides, the system acquires an extraordinary sensitivity to external influences. Because the system is now open, there arises a continuous exchange of energy and matter with the surroundings. The diffusion processes advance at high speed, leading to a decrease of the concentration gradients. As a response, mechanisms of self-organization come into existence, which brings to a stop a decrease in the concentration gradients maintaining the heterogeneity. At the bifurcation point, the system is seeking a way to its further development, with a great number of microfluctuations engaged in competition. To a great extent, this choice is defined by chance, due to the intensive chaotic processes. In the long run, one of the competing microfluctuations embraces the whole system. Turned into the macrofluctuation, it determines a further way of development of the system. The organization, subordinated to the dominating macrofluctuation, gives birth to a new structure of the system. The rest of the microfluctuations remain as the autonomous subsystems. Hence, a new period of stable development of the system begins.

Unlike the Darwin's way of evolution, the Prigogine's mechanism is a paradoxical one: it can either lead to a drastic increase in the level of organization of a system, or result in a drastic simplification or destruction of a system. That means each of these main trends A, B, C has a chance to be realized, and a probability of the realization of any trend cannot be equal to 100%.

The first key bioproperty postulates that biosystems extract free energy from the environment during the exchange process. They acquire ability for expansion in the process of self-development by using a permanent inflow of free energy. All the prebiotic microsystems considered above do not possess this property. Ability for expansion is not peculiar to the non-living dissipative structures, as well. These structures may only maintain their existence during a short period of time, while inhibiting an increase of entropy. For instance, an oscillatory chemical reaction can proceed through hundreds of oscillations at length, but in the long run, ends as soon as the available reactants are exhausted. It follows that non-living systems (including the prebiotic models and dissipative structures), and the living ones are on the opposite sides of the line; it means there is an equality between the inflow and the outflow of free energy in a system. It is only in living systems that the inflow prevails over the outflow. Correspondingly, the coupled universal processes predominate in them. From this point of view, the origin of living systems goes through the inversion of the universal processes. As a result of the inversion, a summary energetic effect of the coupled processes becomes higher than a summary energetic effect of the basic processes. It is only this point of the inversion, which the author considers to be Point L (Fig. 2).

2. Stabilized Bifurcation as the Only Possible Starting Point of Life

The transformations a system undergoes close to a bifurcation point belong to a wide class of critical events. In general, these events characterize the boundary state of a substance or a system. The events are similar in either phase transitions (liquid-gas, liquid-liquid), or in nonequilibrium instabilities. A common peculiarity for the critical events is their strengthening as they near the bifurcation (critical) point, and disappearance following the end of transformation in a system (substance).

In fact, the state of a system (substance) approaching the critical point is contrasting: the polarity between the chaotic and ordering processes becomes extraordinarily high. The anomalies of concentrations, heat capacity and conductivity, density, viscosity, electric potential, etc. are rapidly increasing as a system is approaching a critical point; the scale of fluctuations grows to the critical point. That means a radius of correlation exceeds an average distance between the particles in immediate proximity to the bifurcation point, growing to become an infinitely large straight at the point. Fluctuations organize molecules and as a result, display cooperative behaviour. The variability of ways by which potential postbifurcate can develop is boundless (in the framework of the main trends A-C), because any transition of a system over the critical point is characterized by individual peculiarities due to the highest role of chance.

It is possible to draw some striking analogies between the behaviour of a system (substance) approaching the critical point, and the regularities underlying life.

1. A biotic system and an adjoining part of the outside world (i.e. environment) are united into the inseparable biological system by means of a continuous exchange of matter, energy and information. This kind of close interaction of a system and its surroundings develops only at the critical point, when a system becomes extraordinarily sensible to the external influences. All the events, occurring inside and outside the system, are closely linked by this sensitivity.

2. A living organism is a complete integrated system. The cooperative principles run the existence of any organism or community. Cooperative behaviour of particles displays itself in immediate proximity to the critical point. It can be considered in terms of the response or counteraction to the increase of the chaotic processes.

3. The inner structure of a living organism is extremely heterogeneous. The heterogeneity is maintained by a profusion of various gradients and membranes, as well as by the intensive processes proceeding along and against the gradients. A prototype of such a structure can only appear by the critical point: it was proven that the heterogeneity of substance increases as it is approaches the critical point.

These analogies bring us to the conclusion that life could arise only from a bifurcation (critical) point. Beyond this point, the appropriate state of the substance, as well as appropriate processes are absent. But how should a prebiotic system develop after the bifurcation point in order to save these properties and acquire a chance to be transformed into the protobiological system? Even a transition to a much higher order through self-organization (Fig. 4a, trend C) did not mean a start of the origin of life process, because the achievement of high-ordered structure is accompanied by the disappearance of the dynamic processes, stimulated by chaos. For instance, proteinoide microspheres represent the high-ordered microsystems soon after their self-assembling, existing in the state of passive equilibrium (or close to equilibrium) with the outside world. Another permissible way is a formation of dissipative structures. This method prolongs the non-equilibrium state of a system after the critical point. But chemical dissipative structures do not possess an excess of free energy with respect to the surroundings, which is a necessary condition for the origin of life. So, the problem consists in finding a way for the development of the prebiotic system after its bifurcation that would lead it to life. Actually, the obstacle was noted in the introduction. In order to discover a natural way to surmount the obstacle, we should formulate an important intermediate thesis: a prebiotic microsystem is to preserve the bifurcate state, in order to get a chance to be transformed into the (proto) living microsystem, with the appropriate critical events taking place only in the area of the bifurcation point. The microsystem must find a way to stabilize its bifurcate state, and develop further, continuously abiding in the condition close to the bifurcation point.

This thesis brings us to the consideration of the rare boundary events, arising between the irreversible and reversible bifurcate transitions. These events have not been investigated from the origin of life point of view. A general position on these kinds of events with respect to the bifurcate transition is given in Figure 5. Let us assume that a system strives to remove itself from the initial state 1 to the advanced states 2 or 3 through the bifurcation point. The fields of stability of the system in the states 1-3 are contoured with the dotted lines. The most profitable position of the system inside these fields, in regards to producing the minimum entropy, is in their central parts. There are three possible scenarios of behaviour for the system, after it has acquired an impulse for the transition by means of a change in the responsible parameter(s). The first one implies the impulse to be insufficient for the system to reach the bifurcation point. In this case, the system returns to the former field 1, according to the schematic trend D (Fig. 4b). The second scenario demands the impulse to be superfluous (more than sufficient) to overcome the bifurcation point. In the long run the system selects a position in the fields 2 or 3, in accordance with the schematic trends C-B (or goes to ruin according to the trend A) (Fig. 4b, 5). But what happens in the case if the value of the impulse corresponds to the precisely intermediate magnitude, as compared to the insufficient and the superfluous impulses? In that rare case, the system is supposed to remain undecided between the opposite forces, both simultaneously inducing either to advance the system to a new state or to return it to its former condition. Let us substantiate this scenario in theory, on the basis of certain empirical data and its logical interpretation.


First of all, the bifurcation point is characterized by the permanent instability between the prebifurcate and postbifurcate states of a certain chemical system. A stable equilibrium in the bifurcation point is unattainable due to strong fluctuations. For a period of time, the system will be inevitably displaced either in the direction of its former condition or to one of the forward trends. However, there exist an opportunity for the system to prolong the bifurcate state if it finds itself within the favorable regime of fluctuations in the surroundings. As it has already been mentioned, a system under the bifurcate state is extraordinarily sensible to any changes in the surroundings. That means, the system approaching a forward state might become balanced with an adequate change of the external conditions in the opposite, i.e. reverse direction, and visa versa. Although it is impossible for the system to stabilize its bifurcate state, that occurrence might happen due to the stabilizing influence of the surroundings. In this case, the conditions in the media oscillate in the counter-phase with respect to the forward-reverse oscillations of the system's immediate proximity to the bifurcation point; there arises a peculiar resonance integrating the system and its surroundings into a pair system. A stability of the system might increase to a greater extent, therefore prolonging its existence.

A temporal stabilization of the bifurcate state through oscillations close to the bifurcation point radically transforms the initial chemical system. The system is simultaneously attracted by the two opposite sides: the initial state 1 and the potential advanced state(s) 2-3 (Fig. 5). These opposite and balanced forces seem to expand the system, pushing it off the bifurcation point (Fig. 6). Correspondingly, the prebifurcate (recurrent) and the postbifurcate (forward) states take place in such a system simultaneously. That is why a system of this type can be called a 'bistate system', or 'bisystem'. The forward state (F-state) is nonequilibrium and strives to transit the bisystem into one of the forward states (according to trends A-C) (Fig. 4b). The recurrent state (R-state) is also nonequilibrium and develops an effort to return the bisystem to the former stable position (according to the trend D). The relative equilibrium between the R-state (reverse force) and F-state (forward force) is an indispensable condition for the stability of a bistate system; otherwise the system would leave the bifurcate area and loose its bistate status. The relative equilibrium in the R-F-states is maintained by means of the recurrent-forward transitions through the bifurcation point. It means that the R-state and F-state predominate in turn. Being a center of instability in the bisystem, the bifurcation point delimits these alternative states. Macrofluctuations maintain continuous dynamic processes and keep the heterogeneity of a bistate system. This center of instability is a source of the continuous nonequilibrium, transformation and development of a bisystem. A continuous opposition-interaction between the instability and the equilibrium leads to a continuous rearrangement of molecules, structures and processes inside bisystems. In fact, many elements in a bisystem are in a state of transition to other different states. The same behaviour of the elements is peculiar to a biotic system, as was substantiated by Hennet. (2)


The forking state of bisystem results in the formation of its specific forking (macro) structure. A transition from the R-state to F-state leads to a particular disintegration in the old prebifurcate structure of a bisystem. The reverse transition initiates particular disintegration of the newly formed postbifurcate structure. Due to the highest role of chance, forward transitions stimulate the appearance of new unpredictable structural changes in a bisystem. Recurrent transitions abolish part of the changes. There occurs the interpenetration of the former part-deformed structure and the new part-deformed structure. So, frequent recurrent-forward transitions over the bifurcation point form an extraordinarily specific structure of a bisystem. Two opposite and autonomous structures, the F-R- (or R-F-subsystems) that are complementary to each other, are situated on different sides of the center of a bisystem. The complementary substructures develop in the opposite directions from the center. A border between them lies across the zone of the relative equilibrium. Taking into account a similarity of the substructures and opposite directions of their self-building, this zone represents a plane (line) of smooth (sub) symmetry, which extends through the center of bisystem.

Conclusion. The theoretically described fundamental properties of bistate systems refer to the nonunique fundamental bioproperties, which were distinguished by different scientists (Table 3): continuous transformation and rearrangement of molecules (8th NUP), thermodynamic and chemical nonequilibrium, organized instability (10th NUP), integrity of structures (11th NUP), capability for self-organization (12th NUP). These analogies lead us to the conclusion that a bistate system can be considered as a prototype of a biotic system, and the adjoining part of the media can be considered as a prototype of the environment. The major final step in the development of a bistate prebiotic system into the initial biotic system consists in the inversion of the universal processes and acquisition of its ability for the boundless self-development.

V. Formation of Initial Biological Systems and their Fundamental Properties

Nonequilibrium external conditions and regular actions from the surroundings open great perspectives for further development of prebiotic bisystems. After the resonance period, a prebiotic bisystem may only avoid a complete destruction by creating the new mechanisms of stabilization. As was considered, the stabilizing processes in bisystem are stimulated by its responding reactions to external influences. It follows that the sweeping change in external conditions from favorable to unfavorable, right after the resonance period could promote a formation of the principally new stabilizing mechanisms in prebiotic bisystems, through the radical structural and functional reorganization. If the change in the external conditions exceeds a resistive capacity of a bisystem, it would result in its complete destruction. However, a weak alteration of the external conditions would not stimulate a formation of the radically new stabilizing mechanisms associated with the foundation of life. Therefore, the optimal scale of fluctuations in the media, which are appropriate for life to arise, should comprise neither weak nor excessively strong fluctuations, but a level from significant to strong. This optimal corridor of fluctuations makes it possible to define more clearly the fourth main condition for the origin of life.

5.1 Formation of Four Key Bioproperties in Prebiotic Bistate Microsystems and Their Transformation into Probionts

Let us consider some important peculiarities of the responding reaction of a prebiotic bisystem. A considerable change of the external conditions exposes the bisystem to the stress. The bisystem under stress is compelled to adjust to the new conditions by reorganizing its structure and functions; otherwise it destroys (in case the stress value exceeds its adaptive capacity). Intensive counter basic-coupled processes, continuous rearrangement of all molecules and an unpredictable change of balance between the competing inner fluctuations open great opportunities for the adaptation and further development of the bisystem.

First, the stress stimulates the repulsive forces between the opposite states and structures, and compels a prebiotic bisystem to adequately strengthen the integrative forces. The reinforced internal tension between the repulsive and integrated forces intensifies inner processes, and contributes to a generation of the strengthened responding reaction. It is by this process that the second key property of a biotic system appears -i.e., its ability for an intensified responding reaction. It defines a display of the irritability (9th DUP), and other derivative bioproperties (10-11th DUP) in the advanced forms of life (Table 2).

A regular maintenance of the stress through regular external (destructive) influences supports a permanent constructive responding reaction inside a prebiotic bisystem. The reaction directs a strengthening of resistance in the bisystem. Consequences of the self-maintaining constructive reaction spread in the surroundings as well, because a bisystem and its protoenvironment are complementary. So, the constructive counteraction to the internal and external destructive processes in a prebiotic bisystem can be realized by means of: a) gradual constructive reorganization of the inner structures, functions and processes (Darwin's mechanism of evolution); b) sudden and radical constructive transformation due to an accidental event during the regular transitions over the bifurcation point (Prigogine's mechanism of evolution); such a transformations leads to a drastic increase of resistance in bisystems, while a less constructive or destructive transformations result in their extinction with natural selection; c) broadening of the permissible trends of development of a prebiotic bisystem means an increase of variability of its behavior in the environment; this feature in combination with the constructive direction of the responding reaction leads to the appearance of initial sparks of expedient behavior (third key bioproperty). Later on these sparks would initiate the appearance of the foresight (12th DUP), ability to move (14th DUP), and ability to modify its form and behavior (15th DUP).

Using these ways of counteraction to the destructive processes, a prebiotic bisystem has a good chance to obtain the energetic profit through the following: a) specific organization of its behavior, b) specific way of the exchange of matter, energy and information with the environment. This chance is transacted into reality in the case where the summary effect of the constructive processes prevails over the destructive events. At this moment, from the thermodynamic point of view, the free energy inflow exceeds the internal entropy, produced by the prebiotic bisystem. Correspondingly, the summary energetic effect of the coupled processes (E+) exceeds the effect of the basic ones (E-). The bisystem extracts free energy from the environment at the expense of its activity, and this is the first key bioproperty. The processes of self-organization support prevalence of the constructive transformations. As was considered, these processes start with the origin of a bisystem and embrace all levels of its organization (from molecular to macrosystemic). A process of the continuous self-organization maintains a permanent self-formation of the renovated structures and functions in a prebiotic bisystem. This type of transformation is supported by a free energy inflow to the bisystem. In this way, the continuous self-renovation of biosystems of different ranks rises. This is the fourth key bioproperty. The initial self-renovation of the protocellular structures at the molecular level (16th DUP) subsequently displayed more and more advanced hierarchical levels in the process of the following biological evolution (17-19th DUP).

5.2 Formation of the Biological Specificity of the Non-Unique Fundamental Bioproperties and Appearance of the Other Unique Bioproperties

Thermodynamic aspect of the origin of life: As a result of competition and natural selection, prebiotic bistate microsystems and probionts are divided into two non-equal parts in the natural conditions. The majority of them are not able to support a positive energy balance (i.e. [E.sup.+] < [E.sup.-]) and are excluded from the further development because of the strengthening of destructive forces. Asmall part of these microsystems is viable and able to support the positive energy balance ([E.sup.+] > [E.sup.-]) that leads to the accumulation of free energy in them. In fact, a transition from bistate prebiotic microsystems to probionts, as well as their following evolution, proceeds at the expense of free energy accumulating in them (i.e. expanded reproduction). This is due to the specific organization of inner processes and the active exchange with the environment. An excess of free energy is the power base for dominating the coupled processes, which could be used for the subsequent constructive transformations. Domination of the coupled processes over the basic ones provides probionts with the supplementary negentropy being the antigradient motive power, or the vital force. The availability of the vital force of probionts differs them from the inanimate nature (7th DUP). The negentropy antigradient motive power is in the further increase of the gradients and differentiation of the protocellular structures. In this way, the initial probionts started the biological evolution, including the complication and the increase in hierarchy (2nd DUP), and the ability for the counteraction to the external changes (11th DUP). In the aspect of thermodynamics, this evolution can be only compensated in the framework of a pair biological system, where probionts are acceptors of free energy while the abiotic environment is a donor of free energy. This interrelation between the two components of a proper biological system corresponds to the ability of a living organism to manipulate the environment (13th DUP). It is directly correlated with the growing ability of living organisms to take the control of the environment and with a reduction of their dependence on it. Huxley (13) considered this property to be the most important in the progressive biological evolution.

Substantial and structural peculiarities of the prebiotic bistate microsystems: In order to outline the frame composition of a prebiotic microsystem, we should ask a question: What initial substantial and structural peculiarities are needed to give the prebiotic microsystems, possessing the bistate status, the best chance for the following transformation into probionts? In the framework of the suggested conception, some key demands to the initial composition of the microsystems are outlined.

1) The initial prebiotic microsystems should be mainly composed of the carbon-based aggregates, or polymers (1st NUP). They are only two elements--carbon and silicon from the entire Periodic Table that are able to form boundless polymers and serve as a substantial basis for boundless complication of a system. Unlike the silica polymers, much more flexible ties characterize the carbon-based polymers. That is why the organic compounds represent the most suitable substance to be in the base of living systems.

2) The inner high concentration gradients are to be maintained by the complex heterogeneous composition of the prebiotic bistate microsystems. The homogenous composition inevitably leads to a decrease of the gradients and fading of the internal dynamic processes in the microsystems. It should be supposed that lipids, amino acids and nucleotide chains (or their precursors), as well as water were a part of the initial prebiotic microsystems.

3) The common capsule of the prebiotic microsystem, its three dimension being comparable, is necessary to delimit the proper biotic off the environmental parts in a pair biological system. The availability of the internal membranes provides a support of inner concentration gradients and the heterogeneous structure (2nd NUP)

4) The internal repulsive forces in a prebiotic bistate microsystem can be efficiently supported by means of the polarity of its chemical composition (4th NUP). On one hand, the contrast interaction between a) water and hydrofuge organic compounds, b) amines and acids in polypeptide chains, and c) polypeptide and polynucleotide chains, which represent the chemically polar substance, support the repulsive forces in prebiotic bisystems. On the other hand, self-organization of the bisystem, caused by the regular transitions over the bifurcation point, maintains the integrative forces. A display of both the repulsive and integrative forces in their optimum balance leads to the well known opposite tendencies in the biological evolution--differentiation and integration.

The biological specificity of the organic matter in living organisms is a result of the antigradient motive power activity. The motive power maintains the existence of the developed membranes and promotes a formation of the new ones. Its activity provided an increase of the gradients between the L-forms and D-forms of amino acids and sugars, and then an absolute prevalence of the L-amino acids and D-sugars in living organisms (3rd NUP). As it is known, the D- and L-configurations represent extreme displays of enantiomorphs; therefore, a priority of any configuration means the maximum gradient between them. Some important properties of biotic proteins, for instance their primary structure, cannot be obtained in abiotic proteinoides experimentally. (14) The difference between the abiotic proteionides and the biotic proteins is determined by different types of the maternal systems, where the synthesis of these macromolecules proceeds (an experimental camera and a living organism). Unlike the abiotic proteinoides, the synthesis of the biotic proteins is introduced into living organisms. Organisms possess a continuous antigradient motive power; besides, they are a product of the long period of evolution. This is the reason why all the complex organic compounds and structures in a living organism disintegrate, as soon as the motive power disappears after its death. A continuous transference of atoms against the gradients has in the long run led to the formation of another derivative unique bioproperty--a concentrative encapsulation, i.e. high concentration in a small volume (8th DUP).

Metabolism, growth and the life cycle. The revolution in the balance of the universal processes radically changes the character of exchange with energy, matter and information between a probiont and its environment. The expanded reproduction of free energy in probionts maintains their positive free energy gradient with respect to the environment. This gradient provides a subsequent growth of probionts, promoting constructive transformations in them. In that way, the biological specificity adds to the 5th NUP (ability for growth), and results in the appearance of the 6th DUP (growth through redundancy). Growth of a probiont proceeds at the expense of the selective assimilation of substance. The selectivity is a direct consequence of the ability of a biotic system for the expedient interaction with the environment, maintaining the chemical nonequilibrium of a probiont with respect to the environment.

Specificity of chemical reactions in primary biotic systems consists in their getting involved into the constrained circulation of matter and energy, which is directed to the following constructive transformations and increase of inner energy gradients. The expanding circulation of matter and energy in the evolving probionts results in the appearance of a growing number of intermediate reactive products. In the submolecular level, this process is supported by the prevalence of the active transport (the coupled process) over the diffusion (the basic process). A combination of the permanent matterenergy circulation on the one hand, and the permanent matter-energy exchange with the environment on the other forms a probiont as an assembly line system. In this context, the initial peculiarities of the matterenergy exchange in probionts (branching and crossing of biochemical reactions, continuous inner fluctuations, the cooperative behaviour of molecules, etc.) make a basis for the formation of the proper biological metabolism, including the autocatalysis, cyclic chemical processes, and feedback loops (3rd DUP). Thus, the inversion of the universal processes in prebiotic bistate microsystems can be considered as a boundary between the chemical reactions in Vitro (proceeding according to the general entropy tendency), and the chemical reactions in Vivo (proceeding in accordance with the general negentropy tendency).

Due to the permanent reorganization of molecules in probionts, the extracted matter involves into the inner substantial circulation. The combination of the opposite basic-coupled processes and conversely, the general constrained tendency to constructive transformations gives a great chance for the earliest biotic systems to achieve an additional source of free energy: by means of a release of energy at the expense of disintegration of the energy rich compounds. The efficient process of the constructive assimilation creates a basis for the probionts to grow and resist decay (10th DUP), while the non-efficient one leads to their extinction due to natural selection.

The growth of probionts is limited by a critical size under given conditions. As soon as the size of a growing probiont exceeds the critical level, it becomes unstable, with its following division into two microcomponents, i.e. new young probionts. Growth of the viable microcomponents again proceeds until their critical size. The period between the initial and the final division is the life cycle of a probiont (9th NUP). The dichotomous character of the division into two similar microcomponents occurs under the permanent action of the repulsive forces between the opposite R-F subsystems in a probiont. The integrative forces in a probiont having obtained its critical size grow weaker, and the opposite subsystems naturally separate at the expense of the repulsive forces.

Traces of external influences and their reorganization into the bioinformation. In accordance with the 7th NUP, a crystal is able to carry and accumulate information as it is grows, as well as a living being. All the changes in the mineral-forming media leave their traces in the growing crystal. The traces are fixed within a zonality of a crystal, in the composition of gas-liquid or three-phase inclusions, in microcracks, etc. They carry information about the growth of a crystal, and successive changes in the outside world. Based on this information, mineralogists are able to trace all the stages of the formation of a crystal.

In this context, the initial distinction of a prebiotic bistate microsystem from a crystal consists in its extraordinary sensitivity to changes in the environment and ability to fix the slightest external changes, due to flexibility of the organic matter. A change in the external conditions influences a probiont, deforming a configuration of organic macromolecules, their ties, etc. In fact, such deformations represent traces or prints of changes in the outside world. In that way, primary biotic microsystems obtain information about the changing environment. This information is accumulated uninterruptedly, due to the highly sensitive interaction between probionts and the environment.

Polyamino acid chains and proteins are characterized by the extreme lability. These macromolecules were appropriate for the accumulation of the primary information, i.e. traces of the external influences. Inevitably, the consolidated information had to be involved in the circulating interaction between two opposite classes of biopolymers--polypeptide and polynucleotide chains (or their precursors). At the early stage of the biological evolution, the new information laid over the previous information in the hard polynucleotide chains, while the new information in flexible polypeptide chains replaced the primary information.

The antigradient motive power and the progressive concentrative encapsulation in probionts provided their increasing ability to accumulate information. During this process, the physic-chemical deformations in the chains of biopolymers (first of all polypeptides), that keep information about the changing environment, inevitably affected to each other. This interaction combined with a continuous molecular reorganization in probionts raises the hierarchical level of the primary bioinformation. Through this process, the initial 7th NUP (ability to carry and accumulate information) acquired the biological specificity and transformed into the 4th DUP. An accumulation of the high hierarchical bioinformation in polynucleotide chains led to the formation of special genetic structures (5th DUP). Their further complication resulted in the acquisition of a capacity for the transmission of the genetic information and the capacity for self-instruction.

Experiments on the abiotic synthesis and reduplication of polynucleotide chains are a great step to understanding the origin of the genetic code. They showed a potential capacity of some polynucleotide macromolecules for their division into two identical chains. The experimental synthesis was guided by the constructive vital force generated in the researchers who conducted experiments (i.e. in human living beings). But what kind of force could realize the potential capacity in the inanimate nature four billion years ago? According to the suggested conception, this synthesis proceeded inside the probionts. It was guided and stimulated in them by the gradually acting antigradient motive power, and by drastic changes in the primary genetic structures in combination with natural selection, on the other hand. Optimum process of the synthesis in a probiont correlates with the objective and sufficient information about the environment. Such information allowed a probiont to execute an expedient behaviour in the environment; otherwise it was eliminated from the following evolution by natural selection. This is the reason why the evolution of the genetic code proceeded in accordance with the self-perfecting logic that was emphasized by Wong. (2)

The forking structure of a probiont defines a general tendency to divide the bioinformation into two (sub) identical parts. As a result of the long period of evolution, the probiont/cell division started alongside with the division of genetic structures and corresponding bioinformation In that way the preservation of the whole bioinformation was preserved. The heredity (6th NUP) rose in new level and obtained specific biological quality. The subsequent process of the increase in the accuracy of the translation, substantiated by Woese, (15) resulted in the formation of the initial species of (hyper) thermophiles.


As was pointed out in the introduction, the impossibility to obtain self-maintaining dynamic processes in any kind of the prebiotic models is a great obstacle to the further advancement of our knowledge in the origin of life field. As it follows from the suggested systemic conception, two main conditions should be at least taken into consideration, in order to succeed in overcoming this problem: 1) the prebiotic organic microsystems should be explored close to the critical point of the transition; 2) a transformation of the prebiotic 'monostate' microsystems into the bistate microsystems and their following development to a living state is only possible under the oscillating conditions in the experimental camera.


My thanks to Alla Voronina and Kris Norton who helped me to prepare the manuscript for publication.


(1.) Kompanichenko, V.N. (2003). Distinctive Properties of Biological Systems: the All-Round Comparison with Other Natural Systems. Frontier Perspectives 12 (1), 23-35.

(2.) Palyi, G., Zucci, C. & Caglioti, L. (Eds). (2002). Fundamentals of Life. Paris: Elsevier SAS.

(3.) Kompanichenko, V.N. (1996). Transition of precellular organic microsystems to a biotic state: environment and mechanism. Nanobiology 04, 39-45.

(4.) Kompanichenko, V.N. (1996). Hydrothermal origin of life in Earth depth. Khabarovsk: PGS.

(5.) Kompanichenko, V.N. (2003). One more universal factor for the origin of life: strong fluctuations in the medium. Frontiers of Life. (L. Celnikier & J. Tran Thanh Van Eds.), France: The Gioi Publishers, 47-50.

(6.) Corliss, J.B., Baross, J.A., Hoffman, S.E. (1981). An hypothesis concerning the relationship between submarine hot springs and the origin of life on the Earth. Oceanol. Acta, SP 4, 59-69.

(7.) Woese, C.R., Kandler, O. & Wheelis, M.L. (1990). Toward a natural system of organisms. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 87, June, 4576-4579.

(8.) Stetter, K.O. (1995). Microbial life in hydrothermal environment. ASM News, 61 (6), 328-340.

(9.) Moiseev, N.N. (1983). Models of ecology and evolution. Moscow: Znanije (In Russian).

(10.) Nicolis, G. & Prigogine, I. (1977). Self-organization in nonequilibrium systems. New York: Wiley.

(11.) Prigogine, I., Stengers, I. (1984). Order out of chaos. New York: Bantam.

(12.) Haken, H. (1978). Synergetics. Berlin, New York: Springer-Verlag.

(13.) Huxley, I.S. (1942). Evolution: the modern synthesis. London: George Allen and Unwin.

(14.) Fox, S. and Dose, K. (1975). Molecular evolution and the origin of life. Moscow: Mir

(15.) Woese, C.R. (1987). Microbial evolution. Microbial. Rev., 51, 221-270.

Vladimir Kompanichenko

Institute for Complex Analysis; ITIG, 65 Kim Yu Chen Str.,

Khabarovsk 680000, Russia.

Table 1. Classification of natural systems based
on free energy gradient

 Natural systems

 Active, possessing Passive, do not
 excess of free possess excess
Types of energy in respect of free energy in
systems to the media respect to the media

 Systems Surroundings

Cosmic Stars (and their Outer space Black holes, cosmic
 associations), gas/dust clouds,
 active planets asteroids, meteorites

Geological Magnetic and Solid Atmosphere,
 hydrothermal lithosphere hydrosphere,
 systems of of planets lithosphere, massifs
 active planets of rocks, stones,

Biological Organisms, Geospheres Products of
 communities, destruction: coal,
 ecosystems oil, gas deposits,

Social Different-rank Biosphere Archaeological
 communities of monuments of past
 people civilizations

Table 2. Correlation between the key unique fundamental
properties of biosystems by Kompanichenko and the
derivative unique properties by other researchers (the
list of the researchers is given below Table 3)

Unique key Corresponding derivative Researchers who
properties unique properties (DUP) distinguished this or
substantiated by substantiated by the similar derivative
Kompanichenko other researchers property (number in
 the list)

 1. Ability for the 2,3,5,10,14,16,37,
 extraction of (free) 38,41,45,46,47,50,
 energy and matter from 52,54,62
 the environment

Property 1. Ability 2. Capable of evolution, 1,2,4,5,6,7,11,12,13
for accumulation of including the increase 16,17,19,28,34,35,39,
free energy of complexity/hierarchy 42,43,44,46,49,50,54,
(negentropy) (3,6,17,18,22,32,38,50) 60,62,63
and information, and the display of
due to their self-perfecting logic
extraction from the (2,16,52,59,63)
environment at the
expense of own 3. Performance and 1,2,4,6,9,10,11,13,
activity of a control of metabolism, 16,17,19,20,21,22,23,
biosystem including autocatalysis 25,29,37,38,39,41,47,
 (6,11,17,20,37,38,39,41, 50,60,61
 60), cyclic chemical
 processes (6,19,20,22),
 feedback loops (37,47),
 and active transport

 4. Capacity to 1,8,10,11,13,15,16,
 accumulate, re-organize 22,28,30,34,35,41
 (with the increase of
 hierarchical level of
 organization), and
 transmit genetic
 information, including
 capacity of self-

 5. Availability of the 1,14,19,27,28,48,50
 genome and genetic code

 6. Growth through 40

 7. Vital force 25
 distinguishing living
 systems from the
 inorganic nature

 8. Concentrative 4,15
 encapsulation (high
 concentration in a small
 volume), topical

Property 2. Ability 9. Irritability 10,58
for intensified
to an external 10. Resistance to a 53
influence decay by constructive

 11. Perpetuate its own 16
 structure, dynamics
 and state by countering
 external changes

Property 3. 12. Purposefullness, 8,35,50
Expedient foresight
 13. Ability to 8,22,38
 manipulate (or
 advantageously modify)
 the environment

 14. Ability for motion 10,13,18,62

 15. Ability to modify 3,19,25,38
 own form and behavior

Property 4. Regular 16. Self-rejuvenating 10,16
self-renovation (on (self-regenerating)
hierarchical 17. Capable of 4,5,19,26,30,43,46,
levels: molecular, self-replication 56,58,59,60
organism's, 18. Capable of 1,2,7,9,10,12,15,16,
species', self-reproduction 17,18,19,20,21,22,23,
biosphere's) 25,28,29,36,38,47,48,

 19. Stability through 20

Unique key Corresponding derivative Comments that argue
properties unique properties (DUP) correlation between
substantiated by substantiated by the the key and the
Kompanichenko other researchers derivative properties

 1. Ability for the This derivative
 extraction of (free) property directly
 energy and matter from corresponds to the
 the environment essential part of the
 1st key property

Property 1. Ability 2. Capable of evolution, Continuous
for accumulation of including the increase accumulation of free
free energy of complexity/hierarchy energy and
(negentropy) (3,6,17,18,22,32,38,50) information forces a
and information, and the display of biosystem to evolve
due to their self-perfecting logic
extraction from the (2,16,52,59,63)
environment at the
expense of own 3. Performance and Metabolism could be
activity of a control of metabolism, considered as one
biosystem including autocatalysis more key property.
 (6,11,17,20,37,38,39,41, However, it seems
 60), cyclic chemical preferable to
 processes (6,19,20,22), consider it as a
 feedback loops (37,47), consequence upon the
 and active transport 1st key property, as
 (13,62) the extended
 reproduction of free
 energy in a biosystem
 inevitably defines
 the advancing
 complication of inner

 4. Capacity to 4th derivative
 accumulate, re-organize property corresponds
 (with the increase of to the essential
 hierarchical level of part of the 1st key
 organization), and property:
 transmit genetic accumulation of
 information, including information proceeds
 capacity of self- through the
 instruction re-organization,
 to increase of the

 5. Availability of the Continuous
 genome and genetic code accumulation of
 information makes
 appearance of the
 responsible for
 conservation of

 6. Growth through Redundancy is a
 redundancy consequence upon a
 accumulation of free
 energy in a biosystem
 at the expense of its
 environment. So,
 redundancy naturally
 supports growth of a

 7. Vital force Vital force of a
 distinguishing living biosystem generates
 systems from the in the process of
 inorganic nature the free energy
 extraction from the
 environment. The
 available vital force
 is a consequence of a
 positive free energy
 gradient between a
 biosystem and its

 8. Concentrative The negentropy
 encapsulation (high direction of the
 concentration in a small biological evolution
 volume), topical resulted in the
 location anti-gradient
 tendency of major
 processes. The
 tendency leads to a
 complication and
 differentiation of
 (bio)structures, up
 to highly displayed

Property 2. Ability 9. Irritability Irritability is one
for intensified of the displays of
counteraction the ability for the
to an external intensified
influence counteraction

 10. Resistance to a Constructive
 decay by constructive assimilation is one
 assimilation of the ways of
 counteraction to
 external and internal
 processes. Life is
 supported at the
 expense of the
 processes dominating
 over destructive

 11. Perpetuate its own A biosystem is able
 structure, dynamics to (actively)
 and state by countering counteract the
 external changes external changes.

Property 3. 12. Purposefullness, Purposefullness as
Expedient foresight well as a foresight
behavior is a display of the
 expedient behavior

 13. Ability to Ability to manipulate
 manipulate (or the environment is
 advantageously modify) one of the ways of
 the environment the expedient

 14. Ability for motion Motion is one of the
 ways of the expedient

 15. Ability to modify Ability to modify
 own form and behavior the behavior is a
 display of expediency

Property 4. Regular 16. Self-rejuvenating This particular
self-renovation (on (self-regenerating) property is a
different self-renovation at
hierarchical the molecular and
levels: molecular, tissue's levels
organism's, 17. Capable of Self-replication is a
species', self-replication self-renovation at
biosphere's) the genome's level

 18. Capable of Self-reproduction is
 self-reproduction a self-renovation at
 the organism's level

 19. Stability through This derivative
 generations property is a
 self-renovation at
 the population and
 species levels

Table 3. Non-unique properties of biosystems distinguished
by various researches (the list of researches is given below
the table) *

 Examples of
Properties of biosystems, Researches who non-biological
which are considered as distinguished systems that also
non-unique (NUP) by this or similar possess this
Kompanichenko property or similar property

1. Composition of 2,9,19,21,37,53 Coacervates, RNA-World
carbon-based polymers macromolecules,
(aggregates) organic microsystems
 in ocean, oil drops

2. Availability of 2,9,11,13,19,53, Micelles, vesicles,
membranes as 54 proteinoide
(bio)chemical barriers microspheres

3. Optical activity 31,34,55 Proteinoide
(homospirality, microspheres (obtained
disymmetry) of molecules experimentally by S.

4. Chemical polarity of Kompanichenko Proteinoide
compounds and structures microspheres

5. Ability for growth 1,10,13,18,20,21, A magmatic system
 25,38,41,47 (column of chambers
 or volcano)

6. Heredity 44 A magmatic system

7. Ability to carry and 1,8,16,22,34,41 A crystal
accumulate information

8. Continuous 45 A magmatic system
transformation and (chamber)
rearrangement of

9. Life cycle, autonomy 15,16 A star, a magmatic
(perform work), system

10. Thermodynamic and 2,6,9,24,33,46, Physical & chemical
chemical nonequilibrium 54,56 dissipative structures
 (e.g., oscillating
 chemical reactions)

11. Integrity of 1,2,8,18,21,51 Physical & chemical
structures in biosystems dissipative
(auto-organization of structures (e.g.,
molecules, emergent a laser)

12. Capable of 4,5,19,32 Physical & chemical
self-organization, dissipative
self-maintenance structures

Properties of biosystems, Comments that argue correlation between
which are considered as considering property in biological
non-unique (NUP) by and non-biological systems

1. Composition of Correlation is obvious
carbon-based polymers

2. Availability of Correlation is obvious
membranes as
(bio)chemical barriers

3. Optical activity Ratio of L- and D-amino acids in
(homospirality, proteinoide microspheres significantly
disymmetry) of molecules differs from racemic mixture

4. Chemical polarity of Chemical polarity of amines and acids in
compounds and structures amino acids that proteinoide
 microspheres are composed of

5. Ability for growth Growth of a magmatic system starts with
 a small deep chamber and completes its
 formation with an extended column of

6. Heredity In the process of the evolution of a
 magmatic system, chemical composition of
 successive magma intrusions
 significantly changes, but some clear
 geochemical peculiarities are traced
 through all the intrusions

7. Ability to carry and A crystal accumulates (structural)
accumulate information information about its growth and
 following transformations (but it cannot
 re-organize and transmit information)

8. Continuous Continuous re-arrangement of molecules
transformation and takes place in various cybotactic
rearrangement of groupings, which represent a
molecules substantial basis of magma

9. Life cycle, autonomy Any star or volcano goes through its own
(perform work), cycle of existence and performs work in
individuality the surroundings

10. Thermodynamic and Oscillations are maintained in the
chemical nonequilibrium nonequilibrium state of the
 dissipative structure

11. Integrity of Cooperation between the molecules is
structures in biosystems caused by the synergetic effect
(auto-organization of
molecules, emergent

12. Capable of Dissipative structures appear and exist
self-organization, due to the self-organization process

Note to tables 2-3. The list of authors in the book Fundamental of
Life (2002) who distinguished the properties of biological systems.

1- D. L. Abel, 2- A. D. Alstein, 3- M. Anbar, 4- G. O. Arrhenius,
5- H. Baltscheffsky, A. Schultz, and M. Baltscheffsky, 6- L.
Boiteau, 7- A. Brack, 8- D. Brin, 9- R. Buick, 10- M. Colin-Garcia,
and A. Guzman-Marmolejo, 11- D. W. Deamer, 12- A. H. Delsemme,
13- K. Dose, 14- C. de Duve, 15- F. R. Eirich, 16- A. Elitzur,
17- A. S. Erokhin, 18- J. Farmer, 19- R. Guerrero, and L. Margulis,
20- R. C. Guimaraes, 21- V. K. Gupta, 22- V. A. Gusev, 23- R.M.
Hazen, 24- R.J-C. Hennet, 25- R. D. Hill, 26- N. Horowitz, 27- H.
P. Yockey, 28- G. F. Joice, 29- L. Keszthelyi, 30- G. von Kiedrowski,
31- E.I. Klabunovsky, 32- V M. Kolb, 33- B. Kopperhoefer, 34- W. E.
Krumbein, 35- H. Kuhn, 36- I. S. Kulaev, 37- N. Lahav, and S. Nir,
38- D. Z. Lippmann, 39- P. Lopez-Garcia, 40- L. Marco, 41- S.
Mendez-Alvarez, 42- S. I. Miller, 43- S. J. Mojzsis, 44- Y
Momotani, 45- C.K.K. Nair, 46- K. H. Nealson, 47-S. Nir, 48- H.
Noda, 49- T. Owen, 50- G. Palyi, C. Zucci, and L. Cagliati, 51- B.
F. Poglazov, 52- R. F. Polyshchuk, 53- M. Rizotti, 54- M. Russell,
55-X. Sallantin, 56- D. Schulze-Makuch, and L. N. Irvine, 57- R. I.
Scorei, 58- J. Siefert, 59- A. A. Spirin, 60- E. Szathmary (and T.
Ganti), 61- C. Y. Valenzuela, 62- T. G. Waddell, 63- J.T-F. Wong
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Author:Kompanichenko, Vladimir
Publication:Frontier Perspectives
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Sep 22, 2004
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