Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • News & Views
  • Published:


Small molecular replicators go organic

The emergence of complex, dynamic molecular behaviour might have had a role in the origin of life. Such behaviour has now been seen in a reaction network involving small, organic, self-replicating molecules of biological relevance. See Letter p.656

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Emergent behaviour from a reaction network.


  1. See all news & views


  1. Semenov, S. N. et al. Nature 537, 656–660 (2016).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Lotka, A. J. J. Phys. Chem. 14, 271–274 (1910).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Frank, F. C. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 11, 459–463 (1953).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Turing, A. M. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 237, 37–72 (1952).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  5. Winfree, A. T. J. Chem. Educ. 61, 661–663 (1984).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Epstein, I. R. & Pojman, J. A. An Introduction to Nonlinear Chemical Dynamics (Oxford Univ. Press, 1998).

    Google Scholar 

  7. Bissette, A. J. & Fletcher, S. P. Angew. Chem. Int. Edn 52, 12800–12826 (2013).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Ruiz-Mirazo, K., Briones, C. & de la Escosura, A. Chem. Rev. 114, 285–366 (2014).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Nitshchke, J. R. Nature 462, 736–738 (2009).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  10. De Duve, C. Blueprint for a Cell: The Nature and Origin of Life (Patterson, 1991).

    Google Scholar 

  11. Tyson, J. J., Chen, K. C. & Novak, B. Curr. Opin. Cell Biol. 15, 221–231 (2003).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Van Roekel, H. W. H. et al. Chem. Soc. Rev. 44, 7465–7483 (2015).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Annette F. Taylor.

Related audio

Related links

Related links

Related links in Nature Research

Origins of life: RNA made in its own mirror image

Origins of life: Systems chemistry on early Earth

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Taylor, A. Small molecular replicators go organic. Nature 537, 627–628 (2016).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing