A Universal Geochemical Scenario for Formamide Condensation and Prebiotic Chemistry
MetadataShow full item record
R. Saladino, E. Di Mauro, J. M. García-Ruiz, Chem. Eur. J. 2019, 25, 3181. [https://doi.org/10.1002/chem.201803889]
SponsorshipWe acknowledge funding from the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013)/European Research Council grant agreement no. 340863 (Prometheus). Spanish Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad is acknowledged for Project CGL2016‐78971‐P, AEI/FEDER. MIUR Ministero dell′Istruzione, dell′Università della Ricerca and Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa, Italy), project PRIN 2015 STARS in the CAOS—Simulation Tools for Astrochemical Reactivity and Spectroscopy in the Cyberinfrastructure for Astrochemical Organic Species, cod. 2015F59J3R, is acknowledged. This work was supported by COST Action TD 1308.
The condensation of formamide has been shown to be a robust chemical pathway affording molecules necessary for the origin of life. It has been experimentally demonstrated that condensation reactions of formamide are catalyzed by a number of minerals, including silicates, phosphates, sulfides, zirconia, and borates, and by cosmic dusts and meteorites. However, a critical discussion of the catalytic power of the tested minerals, and the geochemical conditions under which the condensation would occur, is still missing. We show here that mineral self‐assembled structures forming under alkaline silica‐rich solutions are excellent catalysts for the condensation of formamide with respect to other minerals. We also propose that these structures were likely forming as early as 4.4 billion years ago when the whole earth surface was a reactor, a global scale factory, releasing large amounts of organic compounds. Our experimental results suggest that the conditions required for the synthesis of the molecular bricks from which life self‐assembles, rather than being local and bizarre, appears to be universal and geologically rather conventional.