Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 15-25

First online:

Potentially prebiotic syntheses of condensed phosphates

  • Anthony D. KeefeAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, University of California
  • , Stanley L. MillerAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, University of California

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In view of the importance of a prebiotic source of high energy phosphates, we have investigated a number of potentially prebiotic processes to produce condensed phosphates from orthophosphate and cyclic trimetaphosphate from tripolyphosphate. The reagents investigated include polymerizing nitriles, acid anhydrides, lactones, hexamethylene tetramine and carbon suboxide. A number of these processes give substantial yields of pyrophosphate from orthophosphate and trimetaphosphate from tripolyphosphate. Although these reactions may have been applicable in local areas, they are not sufficiently robust to have been of importance in the prebiotic open ocean.