Low total abundances and a predominance of n-ω-amino acids in enstatite chondrites: Implications for thermal stability of amino acids in the inner solar system

Danielle N. Simkus, José C. Aponte, Jamie E. Elsila, Hannah L. McLain, Eric T. Parker, Jason P. Dworkin, Daniel P. Glavin

Meteoritics & Planetary Science
Version of Record online: 25 October 2021


“Investigating the organic contents of enstatite chondrite meteorites may offer insights into both early inner solar system and early Earth chemistry. Enstatite chondrite meteorites have highly reduced and anhydrous compositions, and their bulk isotopic compositions closely resemble terrestrial values, suggesting that their parent body asteroids accreted within the inner protoplanetary disk and were a primary contributor during Earth’s late accretion (Javoy, 1995; Piani et al., 2020). Here, we present the first report of amino acids in enstatite chondrite meteorite samples. Three EH3 meteorites were analyzed (Dominion Range [DOM] 14021, Larkman Nunatak [LAR] 12001, and Larkman Nunatak 06252). The acid-hydrolyzed water extracts of the meteorites contained low abundances (1.5–215.9 pmol g−1) of n-ω-amino acids (glycine, β-alanine, γ-amino-n-butyric acid [γ-ABA], δ-amino-n-valeric acid [δ-AVA], and ϵ-amino-n-caproic acid [ϵ-ACA]), but amino acids were not present above detection limits in the nonhydrolyzed samples. The low amino acid abundances and the predominance of n-ω-amino acids resemble amino acid distributions previously observed for thermally altered chondrites. These results suggest that the parent body asteroid was not conducive to the synthesis and/or preservation of α-amino acids, or free amino acids in general, and that EH3 chondrite-like material may not have been a primary contributor of diverse or abundant free amino acids to the early Earth.”