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Monosaccharides and Their Derivatives in Carbonaceous Meteorites: A Scenario for Their Synthesis and Onset of Enantiomeric Excesses

1
NASA-Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA
2
Blue Marble Space, 1001 4th Ave, Ste 3201, Seattle, WA 98154, USA
3
Bay Area Environmental Research Institute, NASA Research Park, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 5 June 2018 / Revised: 6 July 2018 / Accepted: 22 August 2018 / Published: 27 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Meteorites and the Origin of Life)
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Abstract

Carbonaceous meteorites provide the best glimpse into the solar system’s earliest physical and chemical processes. These ancient objects, ~4.56 billion years old, contain evidence of phenomena ranging from solar system formation to the synthesis of organic compounds by aqueous and (likely) low-temperature photolytic reactions. Collectively, chemical reactions resulted in an insoluble kerogen-like carbon phase and a complex mixture of discrete soluble compounds including amino acids, nucleobases, and monosaccharide (or “sugar”) derivatives. This review presents the documented search for sugars and their derivatives in carbonaceous meteorites. We examine early papers, published in the early 1960s, and note the analytical methods used for meteorite analysis as well as conclusions on the results. We then present the recent finding of sugar derivatives including sugar alcohols and several sugar acids: The latter compounds were found to possess unusual “d” enantiomeric (mirror-image) excesses. After discussions on the possible roles of interstellar grain chemistry and meteorite parent body aqueous activity in the synthesis of sugar derivatives, we present a scenario that suggests that most of Earth’s extraterrestrial sugar alcohols (e.g., glycerol) were synthesized by interstellar irradiation and/or cold grain chemistry and that the early solar disk was the location of the initial enantiomeric excesses in meteoritic sugar derivatives. View Full-Text
Keywords: carbonaceous meteorites; interstellar photolysis; enantiomeric excess; monosaccharide; sugars; sugar acid; aldoses; aldonic acid; sugar alcohol; glycerol carbonaceous meteorites; interstellar photolysis; enantiomeric excess; monosaccharide; sugars; sugar acid; aldoses; aldonic acid; sugar alcohol; glycerol
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Cooper, G.; Rios, A.C.; Nuevo, M. Monosaccharides and Their Derivatives in Carbonaceous Meteorites: A Scenario for Their Synthesis and Onset of Enantiomeric Excesses. Life 2018, 8, 36.

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