Relative Amino Acid Concentrations as a Signature for Parent Body Processes of Carbonaceous Chondrites

  • Oliver Botta
  • Daniel P. Glavin
  • Gerhard Kminek
  • Jeffrey L. BadaEmail author


Most meteorites are thought to have originated from objects in the asteroid belt. Carbonaceous chondrites, which contain significant amounts of organic carbon including complex organiccompounds, have also been suggested to be derived from comets. The current model for the synthesis of organic compounds found in carbonaceous chondrites includes the survival of interstellarorganic compounds and the processing of some of these compounds on the meteoritic parent body. The amino acid composition of fiveCM carbonaceous chondrites, two CIs, one CR, and one CV3 havebeen measured using hot water extraction-vapor hydrolysis,OPA/NAC derivatization and high-performance liquid chromatography(HPLC). Total amino acid abundances in the bulk meteorites as well as the amino acid concentrations relative to glycine = 1.0for β-alanine, α-aminoisobutyric acid and D-alaninewere determined. Additional data for three Antarctic CM meteorites were obtained from the literature. All CM meteoritesanalyzed in this study show a complex distribution of amino acidsand a high variability in total concentration ranging from ∼15 300 to ∼5800 parts per billion (ppb), while the CIs show a total amino acid abundance of ∼4300 ppb. The relatively(compared to glycine) high AIB content found in all the CMs is astrong indicator that Strecker-cyanohydrin synthesis is thedominant pathway for the formation of amino acids found inthese meteorites. The data from the Antarctic CM carbonaceous chondrites are inconsistent with the results from the other CMs,perhaps due to influences from the Antarctic ice that were effective during their residence time. In contrast to CMs, the data from the CI carbonaceous chondrites indicate that the Strecker synthesis was not active on their parent bodies.

amino acids meteorites organic compounds parent body solar system 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oliver Botta
    • 1
  • Daniel P. Glavin
    • 2
  • Gerhard Kminek
    • 1
  • Jeffrey L. Bada
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Scripps Institution of OceanographyUniversity of California at San DiegoLa JollaU.S.A
  2. 2.Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie, Abtlg. KosmochemieMainzGermany

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