The prebiotic synthesis of pyrimidines in frozen solution
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- Cleaves II, H.J., Nelson, K.E. & Miller, S.L. Naturwissenschaften (2006) 93: 228. doi:10.1007/s00114-005-0073-y
Most prebiotic syntheses depend on the reaction of concentrated precursor compounds to produce bio-organic molecules. It is now believed that the early Earth’s atmosphere was not reducing enough to have permitted copious synthesis of precursor molecules. Freezing allows reaction to occur even from dilute solution. This reaction has been demonstrated for the purines but not for the pyrimidines. It is shown here that dilute solutions of simple prebiotic molecules produce the biological pyrimidines cytosine and uracil upon freezing. Cold environments may have allowed synthesis of all of the RNA bases even from low organic yielding atmospheres, such as those of the early Earth, Mars, Titan and Europa.