Compartmentalization of self-replicating molecules (templates) in protocells is a necessary step towards the evolution of modern cells. However, coexistence between distinct template types inside a protocell can be achieved only if there is a selective pressure favoring protocells with a mixed template composition. Here we study analytically a group selection model for the coexistence between two template types using the diffusion approximation of population genetics. The model combines competition at the template and protocell levels as well as genetic drift inside protocells. At the steady state, we find a continuous phase transition separating the coexistence and segregation regimes, with the order parameter vanishing linearly with the distance to the critical point. In addition, we derive explicit analytical expressions for the critical steady-state probability density of protocell compositions.
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