Origin & Evolution of Life

Stability of DL-Glyceraldehyde under Simulated Hydrothermal Conditions: Synthesis of Sugar-like Compounds in an Iron(III)-Oxide-Hydroxide-Rich Environment under Acidic Conditions

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
Life
January 25, 2023
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Stability of DL-Glyceraldehyde under Simulated Hydrothermal Conditions: Synthesis of Sugar-like Compounds in an Iron(III)-Oxide-Hydroxide-Rich Environment under Acidic Conditions
Schematic representation of an early Archean hydrothermal area. These surface hydrothermal environments could have been abundant during the Archean period (~3.9 Ga) in crustal zones with a high incidence of volcanic activity. — Life

Researchers have suggested that the condensation of low-molecular-weight aldehydes under basic conditions (e.g., pH > 11) is the prebiotic reaction responsible for the abiotic formation of carbohydrates.

It has also been suggested that surface hydrothermal systems were ubiquitous during the early Archean period. Therefore, the catalysis of prebiotic carbohydrate synthesis by metallic oxide minerals under acidic conditions in these environments seems considerably more probable than the more widely hypothesized reaction routes.

This study investigates the stability of DL-glyceraldehyde and its reaction products under the simulated conditions of an Archean surface hydrothermal system.

The Hveradalur geothermal area in Iceland was selected as an analog of such a system. HPLC-ESIMS, UV–Vis spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy and XPS spectroscopy were used to analyze the reaction products.

In hot (323 K) and acidic (pH 2) solutions under the presence of suspended iron(III) oxide hydroxide powder, DL-glyceraldehyde readily decomposes into low-molecular-weight compounds and transforms into sugar-like molecules via condensation reactions.

Stability of DL-Glyceraldehyde under Simulated Hydrothermal Conditions: Synthesis of Sugar-like Compounds in an Iron(III)-Oxide-Hydroxide-Rich Environment under Acidic Conditions, Life (open access) by Claudio Alejandro Fuentes-Carreón,Jorge Armando Cruz-Castañeda,Eva Mateo-Martí and Alicia Negrón-Mendoza

Life 2022, 12(11), 1818; https://doi.org/10.3390/life12111818

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