Extraterrestrial nucleobases in the Murchison meteorite

Martins, Zita; Botta, Oliver; Fogel, Marilyn L.; Sephton, Mark A.; Glavin, Daniel P.; Watson, Jonathan S.; Dworkin, Jason P.; Schwartz, Alan W. and Ehrenfreund, Pascale (2008). Extraterrestrial nucleobases in the Murchison meteorite. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 270(1-2) pp. 130–136.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2008.03.026


Carbon-rich meteorites, carbonaceous chondrites, contain many biologically relevant organic molecules and delivered prebiotic material to the young Earth. We present compound-specific carbon isotope data indicating that measured purine and pyrimidine compounds are indigenous components of the Murchison meteorite. Carbon isotope ratios for uracil and xanthine of δ13C=+44.5‰ and +37.7‰, respectively, indicate a non-terrestrial origin for these compounds. These new results demonstrate that organic compounds, which are components of the genetic code in modern biochemistry, were already present in the early solar system and may have played a key role in life's origin.

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