Chiroptical activity of hydroxycarboxylic acids with implications for the origin of biological homochiralityOPEN ACCESS 

Jana Bocková, Nykola C. Jones, Uwe J. Meierhenrich, Søren V. Hoffmann & Cornelia Meinert

Communications Chemistry, Volume 4, Article number: 86 (2021)


“Circularly polarised light (CPL) interacting with interstellar organic molecules might have imparted chiral bias and hence preluded prebiotic evolution of biomolecular homochirality. The l-enrichment of extra-terrestrial amino acids in meteorites, as opposed to no detectable excess in monocarboxylic acids and amines, has previously been attributed to their intrinsic interaction with stellar CPL revealed by substantial differences in their chiroptical signals. Recent analyses of meteoritic hydroxycarboxylic acids (HCAs) – potential co-building blocks of ancestral proto-peptides – indicated a chiral bias toward the l-enantiomer of lactic acid. Here we report on novel anisotropy spectra of several HCAs using a synchrotron radiation electronic circular dichroism spectrophotometer to support the re-evaluation of chiral biomarkers of extra-terrestrial origin in the context of absolute photochirogenesis. We found that irradiation by CPL which would yield l-excess in amino acids would also yield l-excess in aliphatic chain HCAs, including lactic acid and mandelic acid, in the examined conditions. Only tartaric acid would show “unnatural” d-enrichment, which makes it a suitable target compound for further assessing the relevance of the CPL scenario.”