Monosaccharides and Their Derivatives in Carbonaceous Meteorites: A Scenario for Their Synthesis and Onset of Enantiomeric ExcessesOPEN ACCESS 

George Cooper, Andro C. Rios, and Michel Nuevo

Life 2018, 8(3), 36; doi: 10.3390/life8030036
Published: 27 August 2018


” Carbonaceous meteorites provide the best glimpse into the solar system’s earliest physical and chemical processes. These ancient objects, ~4.56 billion years old, contain evidence of phenomena ranging from solar system formation to the synthesis of organic compounds by aqueous and (likely) low-temperature photolytic reactions. Collectively, chemical reactions resulted in an insoluble kerogen-like carbon phase and a complex mixture of discrete soluble compounds including amino acids, nucleobases, and monosaccharide (or “sugar”) derivatives. This review presents the documented search for sugars and their derivatives in carbonaceous meteorites. We examine early papers, published in the early 1960s, and note the analytical methods used for meteorite analysis as well as conclusions on the results. We then present the recent finding of sugar derivatives including sugar alcohols and several sugar acids: The latter compounds were found to possess unusual “d” enantiomeric (mirror-image) excesses. After discussions on the possible roles of interstellar grain chemistry and meteorite parent body aqueous activity in the synthesis of sugar derivatives, we present a scenario that suggests that most of Earth’s extraterrestrial sugar alcohols (e.g., glycerol) were synthesized by interstellar irradiation and/or cold grain chemistry and that the early solar disk was the location of the initial enantiomeric excesses in meteoritic sugar derivatives.”