Biological results

System of life criteria

In biology, a big confusion exists until now about the question, what and when can be considered something living, non-living or dead. Gánti, by setting up a phenomenological system of life criteria has not only clarified the borderline, but has also shown that some of the old criteria are not criteria of individual life, but those of a potential to develop the living world (absolute and potential life criteria).  

The minimum model of life: the chemoton

Having life criteria at hand, it can be investigated to what an extent the more and more complex systems designed by means of fluid automata satisfy the individual life criteria. The simplest such system satisfying all the absolute life criteria is the self-reproducing, program-controlled fluid automaton, the chemoton. Consequently, the chemoton should be considered a living system, even the simplest living system, i.e. the minimum system of life . Chemotons can be designed by exact engineering methods and discussed quantitatively by cycle stoichiometry.

The basic units of the living world

Chemotons satisfy not only the absolute life criteria, but also the potential ones, consequently they are not only living systems, but they are also capable of evolving into the living world. On the other hand, all known members of the living world in the Earth built on a basic chemoton organization. It is noteworthy that chemoton theory has facilitated a fresh look at the 'levels-of-selection' debate leading to a view going beyond replicators (genes) and encompassing an irreducible developmental dimension (See also: James Griesemer: The philosophical significance of Gánti's work. In: T. Gánti: The Principles of Life p. 169-186) By this, the chemoton theory creates the stoichiometrical foundations of an exact, theoretical biology.


Intensive research for finding the basis for the origin of life has been going on already for half a century, without the researchers being able to answer the basic question: what is life? The chemoton theory is not only capable of giving an exact answer to this question, it also sketches step by step the possible way of biogenesis from chemical evolution to the appearance of prokaryotic cells. In the frame of this, Gánti and coworkers constructed a hypothetic chemical network consisting of real prebiotic chemical reactions, a possible „prebiotic chemoton”, the quantitative relations of which they calculated by breaking it down into elementary reactions by means of cycle stoichiometry. Thereby they proved that the chemoton theory is suitable for the quantitative designing, controlling and calculation of processes in biogenesis.   

RNA-enzymes and RNA-genes

In 1978, Gánti published (in Hungarian, with an English abstract) that the spontaneous formation of RNA-enzymes and RNA-genes should have preceded the development of protein enzymes and DNA genes. He also elaborated the possible mechanism of this process by means of chemoton theory. Five years after that, in 1983, the first RNA-enzyme was found, this discovery brought the Nobel prize for the researcher in 1989.

Origin of biological periodicity

By means of the theory of fluid automata, chemical systems of different mechanisms and properties generating periodicity can be designed. Presumably, they form a part of the chemical basis of biological periodicity. (See: T. Gánti: On the early evolutionary origin of biological periodicity. Cell Biology International, 2002, Vol. 26, No. 8, 729-735.)

Artificial life

This fields are in the spotlight both in computer science and synthetic chemistry. This problem cannot be solved without our knowing what life is. The chemoton theory shows not only the exact theoretical basis for this research, but it provides also a practical guideline for choosing the ways of synthesis ways, and for the stoichiometric feasibility of such constructions.


The chemoton, as an abstract model is valid for any group of compounds, if their transformations are capable of fulfilling the stoichiometric conditions required by the model. Thus the statements of the chemoton theory are valid not only for the living world in the Earth, even less only for carbon compounds, but e.g. if there is somewhere life on silicon basis, also for this. This the reason, why chemoton theory offers a general theoretical basis for astrobiological/exobiological research as well.

The two levels of life

Since the discovery of tissue culturing , that is for more than seven decades, a pressing but concealed problem of biology is the problem of „surviving” organs, tissues, cells. How is it possible that after the death of a person, his/her heart, kidney is still living (transplantation)? What is then living, the human or its cells? Gánti solves this problem also by means of the chemoton theory by pointing out that considered hierarchically, life has at least two levels . The organization of both is basically that of a chemoton, but the elements of the system being at the lower level are chemical reactions, whereas those of the systems at the upper level are living systems of chemoton organization.