Synthesis of Organic Matter in Aqueous Environments Simulating Small Bodies in the Solar System and the Effects of Minerals on Amino Acid FormationOPEN ACCESS 

Walaa Elmasry, Yoko Kebukawa, and Kensei Kobayashi

Life 2021, 11(1), 32


“The extraterrestrial delivery of organics to primitive Earth has been supported by many laboratory and space experiments. Minerals played an important role in the evolution of meteoritic organic matter. In this study, we simulated aqueous alteration in small bodies by using a solution mixture of H2CO and NH3 in the presence of water at 150 °C under different heating durations, which produced amino acids after acid hydrolysis. Moreover, minerals were added to the previous mixture to examine their catalyzing/inhibiting impact on amino acid formation. Without minerals, glycine was the dominant amino acid obtained at 1 d of the heating experiment, while alanine and β-alanine increased significantly and became dominant after 3 to 7 d. Minerals enhanced the yield of amino acids at short heating duration (1 d); however, they induced their decomposition at longer heating duration (7 d). Additionally, montmorillonite enhanced amino acid production at 1 d, while olivine and serpentine enhanced production at 3 d. Molecular weight distribution in the whole of the products obtained by gel chromatography showed that minerals enhanced both decomposition and combination of molecules. Our results indicate that minerals affected the formation of amino acids in aqueous environments in small Solar System bodies and that the amino acids could have different response behaviors according to different minerals. “