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.
- NHCN polymerization
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology