Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 209-218

First online:

The Cold Origin of Life: B. Implications Based on Pyrimidines and Purines Produced From Frozen Ammonium Cyanide Solutions

  • Shin MiyakawaAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry and Biotechnology, Faculty of Engineering, Yokohama National University
  • , H. James CleavesAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California
  • , Stanley L. MillerAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California

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A wide variety of pyrimidines and purineswere identified as products of a dilute frozen ammoniumcyanide solution that had been held at –78°C for 27 years.This demonstrates that both pyrimidines and purines couldhave been produced on the primitive earth in a short time byeutectic concentration of HCN, even though the concentrationof HCN in the primitive ocean may have been low. We suggestthat eutectic freezing is the most plausible demonstratedmechanism by which HCN polymerizations could have producedbiologically important prebiotic compounds.

alternative base ammonium cyanide chemical evolution cold origin of life eutectic concentration nucleic acid base pyrimidine purine