Ancient Pyruvate Synthesis

Rcjohnsen rcjohnsen at
Sat Sep 9 04:33:22 EST 2000

  Sci. 289:1337-1340  Aug 25, 00

Primordial Carbonylated Iron-Sulfur Compounds and the Synthesis of Pyruvate 

George D. Cody,* Nabil Z. Boctor, Timothy R. Filley, Robert M. Hazen, James H.
Scott, Anurag Sharma, Hatten S. Yoder Jr.  
Experiments exploring the potential catalytic role of iron sulfide at 250°C and
elevated pressures (50, 100, and 200 megapascals) revealed a facile,
pressure-enhanced synthesis of organometallic phases formed through the
reaction of alkyl thiols and carbon monoxide with iron sulfide. A suite of
organometallic compounds were characterized with ultraviolet-visible and Raman
spectroscopy. The natural synthesis of such compounds is anticipated in
present-day and ancient environments wherever reduced hydrothermal fluids pass
through iron sulfide-containing crust. Here, pyruvic acid was synthesized in
the presence of such organometallic phases. These compounds could have provided
the prebiotic Earth with critical biochemical functionality. 
Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington, 5251 Broad Branch
Road, NW, Washington, DC 20015, USA. 
*   To whom correspondence should be addressed. 

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