Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 78, Issue 2, pp 109–117 | Cite as

Prebiotic Phosphate Ester Syntheses in a Deep Eutectic Solvent

  • Maheen Gull
  • Manshui Zhou
  • Facundo M. Fernández
  • Matthew A. Pasek
Original Article


We report a route to synthesize a wide range of organophosphates of biological significance in a deep eutectic solvent (2:1 urea and choline chloride), utilizing various orthophosphate sources. Heating an organic alcohol in the solvent along with a soluble phosphorus source yields phosphorus esters of choline as well as that of the added organic in yields between 15 to 99 %. In addition, phosphite analogs of biological phosphates and peptides were also formed by the simple mixing of reagents and heating at 60–70 °C in the deep eutectic solvent. The presented dehydration reactions are relevant to prebiotic and green chemistry in alternative solvents.


Prebiotic synthesis Phosphorylation Origin of life Deep eutectic solvents Phosphate esters 



This work was jointly supported by NSF and the NASA Astrobiology Program, under the NSF Center for Chemical Evolution, CHE-1004570 (MG, MZ, FF), and by the NASA Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology Program, NNX10AT30G (MAP). We thank Edwin Rivera from the USF NMR facility for research assistance. The authors thank Nicholas V. Hud, Ram Krishnamurthy, and Terry Kee for useful discussions. Maheen Gull also thanks Virginia Pasek and Danny Lindsay for their support and to her mother and sisters for their love and patience as well as her beloved father who passed away while the research work of this manuscript was going on.

Supplementary material

239_2013_9605_MOESM1_ESM.doc (745 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 745 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maheen Gull
    • 1
  • Manshui Zhou
    • 2
  • Facundo M. Fernández
    • 2
  • Matthew A. Pasek
    • 1
  1. 1.School of GeosciencesUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.School of Chemistry and BiochemistryGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA

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