The Life Story of Hydrogen Peroxide III: Chirality and Physical Effects at the Dawn of Life

  • Rowena BallEmail author
  • John Brindley
Theoretical Modeling


It is a remarkable observed fact that all life on Earth is homochiral, its biology using exclusively the D-enantiomer of ribose, the sugar moiety of the ribonucleic acids, and the L-enantiomers of the chiral amino acids. Motivated by concurrent work that elaborates further the role of hydrogen peroxide in providing an oscillatory drive for the RNA world (Ball & Brindley 2015a, J. R. Soc. Interface 12, 20150366, and Ball & Brindley 2015b, this journal, in press), we reappraise the structure and physical properties of this small molecule within this context. Hydrogen peroxide is the smallest, simplest molecule to exist as a pair of non-superimposable mirror images, or enantiomers, a fact which leads us to develop the hypothesis that its enantiospecific interactions with ribonucleic acids led to enantioselective outcomes. We propose a mechanism by which these chiral interactions may have led to amplification of D-ribonucleic acids and extinction of L-ribonucleic acids.


Biological homochirality RNA world Hydrogen peroxide Axial chirality 



This work was supported by Australian Research Council Future Fellowship FT0991007 (Rowena Ball).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mathematical Sciences Institute and Research School of ChemistryThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.School of MathematicsUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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