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Effects of Geochemical and Environmental Parameters on Abiotic Organic Chemistry Driven by Iron Hydroxide Minerals

Barge, L. M. and Flores, E. and VanderVelde, D. G. and Weber, J. M. and Baum, M. M. and Castonguay, A. (2020) Effects of Geochemical and Environmental Parameters on Abiotic Organic Chemistry Driven by Iron Hydroxide Minerals. Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets, 125 (11). Art. No. e2020JE006423. ISSN 2169-9097. doi:10.1029/2020je006423.

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Geological conditions play a significant role in prebiotic/abiotic organic chemistry, especially when reactive minerals are present. Previous studies of the prebiotic synthesis of amino acids and other products in mineral‐containing systems have shown that a diverse array of compounds can be produced, depending on the experimental conditions. However, these previous experiments have not simulated the effects of varying geochemical conditions, in which factors such as pH, iron redox state, or chemical concentrations may vary over time and space in a natural environment. In geochemical systems that contain overlapping gradients, many permutations of individual conditions could exist and affect the outcome of an organic reaction network. We investigated reactions of pyruvate and glyoxylate, two compounds that are central to the emergence of metabolism, in simulated geological gradients of redox, pH, and ammonia concentration. Our results show that the positioning of pyruvate/glyoxylate reactions in this environmental parameter space determines the organic product distribution that results. Therefore, the distribution pattern of amino acids and alpha‐hydroxy acids produced prebiotically in a system reflects the specific reaction conditions, and would be distinct at various locations in an environment depending on local geochemistry. This is significant for origin of life chemistry in which the composition and function of oligomers could be affected by the environmentally driven distribution of monomers available. Also, for astrobiology and planetary science where organic distribution patterns are sometimes considered as a possible biosignature, it is important to consider environmentally driven abiotic organic reactions that might produce similar effects.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription ItemXRD, colorimetry, representative NMR spectra, Q‐TOF/MS
Barge, L. M.0000-0002-2187-540X
VanderVelde, D. G.0000-0002-2907-0366
Additional Information:© 2020. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. California Institute of Technology. Government sponsorship acknowledged. This article has been contributed to by US Government employees and their work is in the public domain in the USA. Received 20 FEB 2020; Accepted 5 OCT 2020. This research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA, supported by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (Icy Worlds), NASA‐NSF Ideas Lab for the Origins of Life (Becoming Biotic), and JPL Research and Technology Development funds (Fate of Organics on Ocean Worlds). We thank Keith Billings (JPL) for XRD analysis, and the Dow Foundation Next Generation Fund for purchasing the Caltech 400 MHz NMR. Copyright 2020 California Institute of Technology, all rights reserved. Data Availability Statement. The data from this study are available in the supporting information (XRD, colorimetry, representative NMR spectra, Q‐TOF/MS), and a summary of the experimental data in the Open Science Framework (Barge, 2020).
Funding AgencyGrant Number
JPL Research and Technology Development FundUNSPECIFIED
Dow Next Generation Educator FundUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:iron hydroxides; prebiotic chemistry; origin of life
Issue or Number:11
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20201208-163034370
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Official Citation:Barge, L. M., Flores, E., VanderVelde, D. G., Weber, J. M., Baum, M. M., & Castonguay, A. (2020). Effects of geochemical and environmental parameters on abiotic organic chemistry driven by iron hydroxide minerals. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 125, e2020JE006423.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:106973
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:09 Dec 2020 15:51
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:58

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