On the Nature of Biological Couplings

We indicated that biological couplings, in general, connect nonequilibrium energies. "Reactions that consume energy [endergonic reactions] can occur in living organisms only because they are coupled to other reactions that release it [exer-gonic reactions]" (Purves et al., 1992, 1). All biological transport is based on biological couplings (Harvey and Slayman, 1994). Biological coupling can occur due to chemical coupling with metabolic reactions or by coupling physical processes to chemical processes like energy or electron transfer, isomerizations, chemical bond-breaking or formation (Sundström, 2007). Ultimately, chemical bonds can be explained by quantum electrodynamics. The basic field of quantum electrodynamics corresponds to three basic types of actions: a photon goes from place to place, an electron goes from place to place, and an electron emits or absorbs a photon (Feynman, 1985, 84-85). These basic actions correspond to radiative energy transfer, linear energy transfer and light emission and absorption, respectively. Besides radiative and linear energy transfer, fluorescence (or Förster) resonance energy transfer, proton coupled energy transfer, and many-body phenomena like energy transfer through delocalized collective excitations (Dahlbom et al., 2002) also play important role in biological organization.

We find it of basic importance that biological organization always starts from the level of the organism/cell; the overall biological viewpoint breaks down into partial processes, into an organized system of more and more partial functions at the lower and lower level of organizational hierarchy, similarly as in the case of the more closely known overall reactions of metabolism, photosynthesis and respiration (Crofts, 2007, 17). In order that all these individual reactions, contributing to more and more global functions could sum up into the global level biological viewpoint, all these partial functions at the many levels of hierarchy must be cohered. The mechanism securing the extremely fine tuning of all these partial functions must be more subtle than the biological processes themselves. We propose that the mechanism beyond the exquisite fine tuning of all these partial processes is governed by the most subtle process possible to realize in physics: by virtual interactions.

Actually, virtual interactions are governed in physics by the action principle (Feynman and Hibbs, 1965). Definitely, virtual interactions in living organisms must be governed by a separate, biological principle. We propose that biological couplings are realized by virtual interactions governed in living organisms by the biological principle.

In this way, we found that the fundamental requirements of the Bauer principle, when formulated as AW— An, can be extended not only to BC— AW— An, but still further. Biological organization is initiated by the Bauer principle (BP) as manifested in virtual interactions VI, and so we can write it formally as BP— VI—^ BC— AW— An. Describing the complexity aspects of biological organization, we find that the deepest level of complexity of the Bauer principle is manifested in virtual interactions determining biological couplings, and these coupling processes determine the biochemical reactions representing a time-dependent series of reaction networks representing algorithmic complexity.

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