Organic matter in meteorites
Department of Inorganic Chemistry,University of Barcelona, Spain
Summary. Some primitive meteorites are carbon-rich objects containing a variety of organic molecules that constitute a valuable record of organic chemical evolution in the universe prior to the appearance of microorganisms. Families of compounds include hydrocarbons, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids, amino acids, amines, amides, heterocycles, phosphonic acids, sulfonic acids, sugar-related compounds and poorly defined high-molecular weight macromolecules. A variety of environments are required in order to explain this organic inventory, including interstellar processes, gas-grain reactions operating in the solar nebula, and hydrothermal alteration of parent bodies. Most likely, substantial amounts of such organic materials were delivered to the Earth via a late accretion, thereby providing organic compounds important for the emergence of life itself, or that served as a feedstock for further chemical evolution. This review discusses the organic content of primitive meteorites and their relevance to the build up of biomolecules.
Key words: primitive meteorites · prebiotic chemistry · chemical evolution · origin of life
Source: Int Microbiol 2004; 7(4):239-248