Publication Abstracts

Harman et al. 2013

Harman, C.E., J.F. Kasting, and E.T. Wolf, 2013: Atmospheric production of glycolaldehyde under hazy prebiotic conditions. Orig. Life Evol. Biosph., 43, no. 2, 77-98, doi:10.1007/s11084-013-9332-7.

The early Earth's atmosphere, with extremely low levels of molecular oxygen and an appreciable abiotic flux of methane, could have been a source of organic compounds necessary for prebiotic chemistry. Here, we investigate the formation of a key RNA precursor, glycolaldehyde (2-hydroxyacetaldehyde, or GA) using a 1-dimensional photochemical model. Maximum atmospheric production of GA occurs when the CH4:CO2 ratio is close to 0.02. The total atmospheric production rate of GA remains small, only 1×107 mol/yr. Somewhat greater amounts of GA production, up to 2×108 mol/yr, could have been provided by the formose reaction or by direct delivery from space. Even with these additional production mechanisms, open ocean GA concentrations would have remained at or below ∼1 µM, much smaller than the 1-2 M concentrations required for prebiotic synthesis routes like those proposed by Powner et al. (Nature 459:239-242, 2009). Additional production or concentration mechanisms for GA, or alternative formation mechanisms for RNA, are needed, if this was indeed how life originated on the early Earth.

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BibTeX Citation

  author={Harman, C. E. and Kasting, J. F. and Wolf, E. T.},
  title={Atmospheric production of glycolaldehyde under hazy prebiotic conditions},
  journal={Orig. Life Evol. Biosph.},

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RIS Citation

ID  - ha02910k
AU  - Harman, C. E.
AU  - Kasting, J. F.
AU  - Wolf, E. T.
PY  - 2013
TI  - Atmospheric production of glycolaldehyde under hazy prebiotic conditions
JA  - Orig. Life Evol. Biosph.
VL  - 43
IS  - 2
SP  - 77
EP  - 98
DO  - 10.1007/s11084-013-9332-7
ER  -

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