Chemical Reactions, CR 3: Evidence of Reactions (HS), CR 4: Driving Reactions (HS), Earth Science, HE 1: Earth's History (MS), HE 2: Early Earth (HS), History of Earth, Non-NGSS Articles, Physical Science, S&P 4: Molecule Traits (HS), Structure & Properties of Matter

Beaming Purines

The Formation of Nucleobases from the Ultraviolet Photoirradiation of Purine in Simple Astrophysical Ice Analogues

SUMMARY: Purines were combined with water and ammonia and beamed with UV photons similar to the pyrimidines in “Beaming Pyrimidines Part 1”. Researchers found many purine compounds in the products including adenine and guanine (at different concentration levels). The discussion and conclusion sections compared the results of this experiment to what was found in meteorites and what the implications are for beginning-of-life-on-Earth theories. What is clear is that all the bases found in DNA and RNA can be made from abiotic molecules.

LESSON COMMENTS: A number of discussions can stem from this article, especially following the Beaming Pyrimidine series. The discussion and conclusion sections are easy to read and a good way for students to think about the implications of these studies. Do similar studies come to the same conclusion? Could students use the bibliography section to find these other studies? What should the next step be?

Materese, C. K., Nuevo, M., & Sandford, S. A. (2017). The Formation of Nucleobases from the Ultraviolet Photoirradiation of Purine in Simple Astrophysical Ice Analogues. Astrobiology,17(8), 761-770. doi:10.1089/ast.2016.1613