Molecular Asymmetry in Prebiotic Chemistry: An Account from MeteoritesOPEN ACCESS 

Sandra Pizzarello

Life2016, 6(2), 18; doi:10.3390/life6020018
Published: 13 April 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Emergence of Life: From Chemical Origins to Synthetic Biology)

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“Carbonaceous Chondrite (CC) meteorites are fragments of asteroids, solar planetesimals that never became large enough to separate matter by their density, like terrestrial planets. CC contains various amounts of organic carbon and carry a record of chemical evolution as it came to be in the Solar System, at the time the Earth was formed and before the origins of life. We review this record as it pertains to the chiral asymmetry determined for several organic compounds in CC, which reaches a broad molecular distribution and enantiomeric excesses of up to 50%–60%. Because homochirality is an indispensable attribute of extant polymers and these meteoritic enantiomeric excesses are still, to date, the only case of chiral asymmetry in organic molecules measured outside the biosphere, the possibility of an exogenous delivery of primed prebiotic compounds to early Earth from meteorites is often proposed. Whether this exogenous delivery held a chiral advantage in molecular evolution remains an open question, as many others regarding the origins of life are. “