, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 139-148
Date: 23 Feb 2008

Hydrothermal Stability of Adenine Under Controlled Fugacities of N2, CO2 and H2

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An experimental study has been carried out on the stability of adenine (one of the five nucleic acid bases) under hydrothermal conditions. The experiments were performed in sealed autoclaves at 300°C under fugacities of CO2, N2 and H2 supposedly representative of those in marine hydrothermal systems on the early Earth. The composition of the gas phase was obtained from the degradation of oxalic acid, sodium nitrite and ammonium chloride, and the oxidation of metallic iron. The results of the experiments indicate that after 200 h, adenine is still present in detectable concentration in the aqueous phase. In fact, the concentration of adenine does not seem to be decreasing after ∼24 h, which suggests that an equilibrium state may have been established with the inorganic constituents of the hydrothermal fluid. Such a conclusion is corroborated by independent thermodynamic calculations.