Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 209–218

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


  • Shin Miyakawa
    • Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology, Faculty of EngineeringYokohama National University
  • H. James Cleaves
    • Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryUniversity of California
  • Stanley L. Miller
    • Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryUniversity of California

DOI: 10.1023/A:1019514022822

Cite this article as:
Miyakawa, S., Cleaves, H.J. & Miller, S.L. Orig Life Evol Biosph (2002) 32: 209. doi:10.1023/A:1019514022822


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 baseammonium cyanidechemical evolutioncold origin of lifeeutectic concentrationnucleic acid basepyrimidinepurine

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002