Multilevel Selection in Models of Prebiotic Evolution: Compartments and Spatial Self-Organization

Orig Life Evol Biosph. 2003 Oct;33(4-5):375-403. doi: 10.1023/a:1025754907141.


In this paper we explore the impact of new levels of selection in models of early evolution. We contrast two types of higher levels of selection. On the one hand we look at spatially explicit models of replicators in which, by a process of self-organization, new levels of selection arise as large scale spatial patterns with a dynamics of their own. Alternatively externally imposed levels of selection above the basic replicators are created by enclosing the replicators in vesicles. In this paper we first review some results on the impact of emerging higher levels of selection on the evolutionary persistence of interacting co-evolving replicator systems. Moreover, we present a vesicle model, which can potentially integrate emerging and imposed levels of selection. We use the models to examine the classical problem information integration in early evolution.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution*
  • Mathematics
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Origin of Life
  • RNA / genetics
  • RNA / metabolism
  • Selection, Genetic*


  • RNA