Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Formose Reaction

  • Henderson James (Jim) CleavesIIEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_587-3

Synonyms

Definition

The formose reaction, discovered by Butlerow in 1861, is a complex autocatalytic set of condensation reactions of formaldehyde to yield sugars and other small sugar-like molecules. The reaction is particularly noteworthy in the context of astrobiology and prebiotic chemistry in that it could serve as a potential abiotic source of carbohydrates, in particular ribose, which could be important for the origin of an RNA World.

Overview

The formose reaction is an autocatalytic reaction discovered by Butlerow (1861). It involves the formation of sugars, polyols and hydroxy acids from formaldehyde in a series of carbon-to-carbon condensations, as opposed to carbon-to-oxygen condensations of HCHO to form polyoxymethylene. Formose is a contraction of formaldehyde and the suffix -ose, denoting a sugar. In fact, many biological sugars have empirical formulas of the form (CH2O)n, for example, glucose, (CH2O)6, and ribose, (CH2O)5. The formose reaction may be a...

Keywords

Autocatalysis Carbohydrate Formaldehyde Formose Ribose RNA World 
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References and Further Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI), Tokyo Institute of TechnologyMeguro-kuJapan
  2. 2.Institute for Advanced StudyPrincetonUSA
  3. 3.Blue Marble Space Institute of ScienceWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.Center for Chemical EvolutionGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA