The key role of meteorites in the formation of relevant prebiotic molecules in a formamide/water environmentOPEN ACCESS 

Luca Rotelli, Josep M. Trigo-Rodríguez, Carles E. Moyano-Cambero, Eleonora Carota, Lorenzo Botta, Ernesto Di Mauro & Raffaele Saladino

Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 38888 (2016)
Published online: 13 December 2016


“We show that carbonaceous chondrite meteorites actively and selectively catalyze the formation of relevant prebiotic molecules from formamide in aqueous media. Specific catalytic behaviours are observed, depending on the origin and composition of the chondrites and on the type of water present in the system (activity: thermal > seawater > pure). We report the one-pot synthesis of all the natural nucleobases, of aminoacids and of eight carboxylic acids (forming, from pyruvic acid to citric acid, a continuous series encompassing a large part of the extant Krebs cycle). These data shape a general prebiotic scenario consisting of carbonaceous meteorites acting as catalysts and of a volcanic-like environment providing heat, thermal waters and formamide. This scenario also applies to the other solar system locations that experienced rich delivery of carbonaceous materials, and whose physical-chemical conditions could have allowed chemical evolution.”