Production of guanine from NH4CN polymerizations

Matthew Levy, Stanley L. Miller, John Oró

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


The synthesis of adenine from the polymerization of concentrated ammonium cyanide solutions is well known. We show here that guanine is also produced by this reaction but at yields ranging from 10 to 40 times less than that of adenine. This synthesis is effective at both +80 and -20 °C. Since high concentrations of NH4CN are obtainable only by freezing, this prebiotic synthesis would be applicable to frozen regions of the primitive Earth, the Jovian satellite Europa and other icy satellites, and the parent body of the Murchison meteorite.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-168
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 9 1999


  • Adenine
  • Guanine
  • NHCN polymerization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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