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Kahana, A.* ; Schmitt-Kopplin, P. ; Lancet, D.*

Enceladus: First observed primordial soup could arbitrate origin of life debate.

Astrobiology 19, 1263-1278 (2019)
Verlagsversion DOI
Open Access Gold (Paid Option)
Creative Commons Lizenzvertrag
A recent breakthrough publication has reported complex organic molecules in the plumes emanating from the subglacial water ocean of Saturn's moon Enceladus (Postberg et al., 2018, Nature 558:564-568). Based on detailed chemical scrutiny, the authors invoke primordial or endogenously synthesized carbon-rich monomers (<200 u) and polymers (up to 8000 u). This appears to represent the first reported extraterrestrial organics-rich water body, a conceivable milieu for early steps in life's origin ("prebiotic soup"). One may ask which origin-of-life scenario appears more consistent with the reported molecular configurations on Enceladus. The observed monomeric organics are carbon-rich unsaturated molecules, vastly different from present-day metabolites, amino acids, and nucleotide bases, but quite chemically akin to simple lipids. The organic polymers are proposed to resemble terrestrial insoluble kerogens and humic substances, as well as refractory organic macromolecules found in carbonaceous chondritic meteorites. The authors posit that such polymers, upon long-term hydrous interactions, might break down to micelle-forming amphiphiles. In support of this, published detailed analyses of the Murchison chondrite are dominated by an immense diversity of likely amphiphilic monomers. Our specific quantitative model for compositionally reproducing lipid micelles is amphiphile-based and benefits from a pronounced organic diversity. It thus contrasts with other origin models, which require the presence of very specific building blocks and are expected to be hindered by excess of irrelevant compounds. Thus, the Enceladus finds support the possibility of a pre-RNA Lipid World scenario for life's origin.
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Publikationstyp Artikel: Journalartikel
Dokumenttyp Review
Schlagwörter Enceladus ; Lipid First Model ; Prebiotic Chemistry ; Carbonaceous Chondrite ; Origin Of Life ; Mutual Catalysis; Insoluble Organic-matter; Prebiotic Chemistry; Autocatalytic Sets; Evolution; Water; Plume; Emergence; Rna; Organization; Replication
ISSN (print) / ISBN 1531-1074
e-ISSN 1557-8070
Zeitschrift Astrobiology
Quellenangaben Band: 19, Heft: 10, Seiten: 1263-1278 Artikelnummer: , Supplement: ,
Verlag Mary Ann Liebert
Verlagsort Larchmont, NY
Begutachtungsstatus Peer reviewed