We demonstrate that when stochastic effects are taken into account, over long periods of time autocatalytic metabolisms evolve through a series of punctuated equilibria. We outline a rigorous theoretical treatment of the dynamics of autocatalytic metabolisms, and present some heuristic numerical simulations. We develop the analogy between the evolution of autocatalytic metabolisms and that of contemporary organisms, and argue that while the essential properties of variation and selection are satisfied, there are nonetheless some intriguing differences that merit further study.
Bagley, R.J., Farmer, J.D. & Fontana, W. (1991). 'Evolution of a Metabolism.' In C. Langton, C. Taylor, J.D. Farmer & S. Rasmussen (Eds.) "Artificial Life II". Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity, vol. X, pp.141 - 158. Redwood City, CA: Addison-Wesley