Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 129–142

Asymmetric Photoreactions as the Origin of Biomolecular Homochirality: A Critical Review

  • Alain Jorissen
  • Corinne Cerf
Article

DOI: 10.1023/A:1016087202273

Cite this article as:
Jorissen, A. & Cerf, C. Orig Life Evol Biosph (2002) 32: 129. doi:10.1023/A:1016087202273

Abstract

The role of asymmetric photoreactions (occurringin space or on the primitive Earth) in the origin of biomolecularhomochirality is critically reviewed. A general description of thevarious possible ways for light to interact with chiral moleculesis first presented on the basis of a series expansion of thedielectric constant: natural, magnetic and magnetochiral circulardichroism are identified with the first three terms in thisdevelopment. Natural and magnetochiral circular dichroismmay cause, through asymmetric photolysis, an enantiomeric excessin a racemic mixture of chiral molecules irradiated, respectively,by circularly polarized ultraviolet light, or by unpolarizedultraviolet light in the presence of a magnetic fieldnon-perpendicular to the light beam. Terrestrial and extraterrestrialsites matching these conditions are then critically reviewed.Finally, we stress the possibility to arrive at the homochiralityof amino acids through a path involving D-ribose during RNA worldas an alternative to the usual scenarios operating directly onamino acids.

amino acids asymmetric photolysis circulardichroism circularly polarized light homochirality magnetochiraldichroism magnetic field neutron star ribose RNA world star-forming region 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alain Jorissen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Corinne Cerf
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut d'Astronomie et d'Astrophysique
  2. 2.Département de MathématiqueUniversité Libre de BruxellesBruxellesBelgium