On the Ability of Formaldehyde to Act as a Tethering Catalyst in Water
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The low concentration issue is a fundamental challenge when it comes to prebiotic chemistry, as macromolecular systems need to be assembled via intermolecular reactions, and this is inherently difficult in dilute solutions. This is especially true when the reactions are challenging, and reactions that proceeded more rapidly could have dictated chemical evolution. Herein we establish that formaldehyde is capable of catalyzing, via temporary intramolecularity, a challenging reaction in water at low concentrations, thus providing an alternative to other approaches that can either lead to higher concentrations or higher effective molarities.
KeywordsCatalysis Molecular evolution Formaldehyde Temporary intramolecularity Low concentration issue Prebiotic chemistry
We thank the University of Ottawa and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada for generous financial support. M.P.J. thanks the Ontario Graduate Scholarship and M.P.J. and M.J.M. thanks NSERC for graduate scholarships. We also thank Dr. Claudia El Nachef for stimulating discussions.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
The authors declare no competing financial interest.
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