The role of aqueous aerosols in the origin of life
09-08-2016

Researchers from the Astrobiology Center identify glyoxylic acid in cyanide polymers synthesized in the presence of aqueous aerosols, supporting the "glyoxylate scenario" in chemistry prebiotic

A central theme in research on the origin of life is the search for synthetic routes, compatible with the restrictions imposed by prebiotic chemistry, that explain the production of chemical compounds present in living organisms and the relationships between them. Albert Eschenmoser proposed the so-called "glyoxylate scenario" , in which glyoxylate and its formal dimer, dihydroxyfumarate, are the key chemical compounds in the generation of a hypothetical system metabolic under non-enzymatic conditions. These compounds would serve as starting reagents for the synthesis of biomonomers, such as sugars, amino acids, pyrimidines and some of the components of the reverse cycle of tricarboxylic acids (rTCAC, in its acronym in English). In this scenario, the initial compound is HCN, but until now no examples have been found that prove the production of glyoxylate from HCN, as originally suggested by Eschenmoser.

Researcher Marta Ruiz-Bermejo , responsible for the laboratory of Prebiotic Chemistry in the Center for Astrobiology (CSIC-INTA) , together with the main author of the work, Margot Roig , and other scientists The CAB has explored several synthesis of HCN polymers, together with statistical methods, as a step to elucidate the synthetic problem of the origin of life. The team paid special attention to the role of aqueous aerosols. To do this, they designed a bubble-spray-drop cycle for NH aqueous solutions 4 CN or NaCN using an ultrasonic aerosol generator. The system was maintained at a constant temperature (38 ° C) with the generation of active aerosol for 3 and 30 days, under both anoxic conditions (atmosphere of N 2 < / span>) as atmospheric pressure.

The synthesized polymers were analyzed by gas chromatography - mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The researchers identified, for the first time, glyoxylic acid in these polymers, together with some components of rTCAC, amino acids and several heterocycles (pyrimidines, purines, pteridines and hydantoins). These results, which have been published in the Chemistry A European Journal , support Eschenmoser's "glyoxylate scenario" hypothesis and suggest that aqueous aerosols could play an important role in the generation of the first biomolecules .



Figure 1. By means of the synthesis of HCN polymers the & nbsp; called "glyoxylate scenario", providing & nbsp; Special attention to the role of aqueous aerosols. The results showed that aqueous aerosols play an important role in the glyoxylate scenario and therefore in the production of the inverse cycle components of tricarboxylic acid under non-enzymatic conditions. The figure shows this cycle and the compounds identified in this work are marked in green.

 

Fuente: UCC-CAB

 

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