Selective adsorption of L- and D-amino acids on calcite: Implications for biochemical homochirality Journal Article uri icon

DCO ID 11121/5663-6149-8844-2893-CC

in language

  • eng

year of publication

  • 2001

abstract

  • The emergence of biochemical homochirality was a key step in the origin of life, yet prebiotic mechanisms for chiral separation are not well constrained. Here we demonstrate a geochemically plausible scenario for chiral separation of amino acids by adsorption on mineral surfaces. Crystals of the common rock-forming mineral calcite (CaCO3), when immersed in a racemic aspartic acid solution, display significant adsorption and chiral selectivity of D- and L-enantiomers on pairs of mirror-related crystal-growth surfaces. This selective adsorption is greater on crystals with terraced surface textures, which indicates that D- and L-aspartic acid concentrate along step-like linear growth features. Thus, selective adsorption of linear arrays of D- and L-amino acids on calcite, with subsequent condensation polymerization, represents a plausible geochemical mechanism for the production of homochiral polypeptides on the prebiotic Earth.

volume

  • 98

issue

  • 10