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Nature20/27 December 2001

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Nature © Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

Meteorites: One lump or two?

At least one sugar and a variety of sugar derivatives (polyols) have been found in the Murray and Murchison carbonaceous meteorites. The idea that extraterrestrial material may have played a role the origin of life on Earth stems in large part from the previous discovery of amino acids in these meteorites, and the presence of polyols adds weight to the argument. The sugar has been identified as dihydroxyacetone, which can readily yield higher sugars including ribose (as in an 'RNA world') in aqueous solution with minerals, and the polyols include glycerol, a constituent of all cell membranes.

letters to nature
Carbonaceous meteorites as a source of sugar-related organic compounds for the early Earth
GEORGE COOPER, NOVELLE KIMMICH, WARREN BELISLE, JOSH SARINANA, KATRINA BRABHAM & LAURENCE GARREL
Nature 414, 879–883 (20/27 December 2001)
| First Paragraph | Full Text | PDF (187 K) |

news and views
Meteoritics: Life's sweet beginnings?
MARK A. SEPHTON
Sugars are common components of organisms on Earth. So their discovery in a meteorite from a lifeless part of the asteroid belt has implications for theories of the origin of life.
Nature 414, 857–858 (20/27 December 2001)
| Full Text | PDF (166 K) |

20/27 December 2001 table of contents

  
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