Directed self-assembly: genomic assembly complexity and the dialectic of information and structure

Julyan Cartwright

Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas - CSIC
Granada, Spain

Biology uses dynamical mechanisms of self-organization and self-assembly, but it also choreographs and directs these processes. The difference between abiotic self assembly and a biological process is rather like the difference between setting up and running an experiment remotely on the space station compared to doing it in one’s own laboratory: On the space station everything must be set up beforehand to let the experiment run ‘hands off’, but in the laboratory one can intervene at any point in a hands on approach. It’s clear that the latter approach, of directed self-assembly, can allow far more complicated experiments and produce far more complex structures. This control over self-assembly is exercised at certain key points along a trajectory and the process may be quantified in terms of the genomic assembly complexity.