MURCHISON ORGANICS

Murchison is one of the most primitive meteorites known and contains water-bearing minerals along with complex organic compounds, including over 100 amino acids and the bases that make up the biological coding elements of RNA and DNA; however, all of these have a nonbiogenic origin. Some current isotopic studies hint that organic sulfur compounds within Murchison might have been created by interaction of carbon disulfide gas-phase molecules with light in the low-temperature, pre-planetary environment of interstellar space. The following organic compounds have been isolated from Murchison:


AMINO ACIDS IDENTIFIED IN THE CM2 MURCHISON METEORITE

Amino Alkanoic Acids

2 Carbon:
Glycine

3 Carbon:
Alanine
β-alanine
Serine
Sarcosine

4 Carbon:
Threonine
α-Aminobutyric Acid
β-Aminobutyric Acid
γ-Aminobutyric Acid
α-Aminoisobutyric Acid
β-Aminoisobutyric Acid
N-Ethylglycine
N,N-dimethylglycine
N-Methylalanine
N-methyl-β-alanine

5 Carbon:
Valine
Isovaline
Norvaline
Proline
Methionine
3-Amino-2-ethylpropanoic Acid
3-Amino-2,2-dimethylpropanoic Acid
3-Amino-2-methylbutanoic Acid
3-Amino-3-methylbutanoic Acid
4-Amino-2-methylbutanoic Acid
4-Amino-3-methylbutanoic Acid
Allo-3-amino-2-methylbutanoic Acid
3-Aminopentanoic Acid
4-Aminopentanoic Acid
5-Aminopentanoic Acid

Amino Dialkanoic Acids

4 Carbon:
Aspartic Acid

5 Carbon:
Glutamic Acid
2-Methylaspartic Acid
3-Methylaspartic Acid
Allo-3-methylaspartic Acid
N-Methylaspartic Acid

6 Carbon:
α-Aminoadipic Acid
2-Methylglutamic Acid

7 Carbon:
α-Aminopimelic Acid

Amino Alkanoic Acids

6 Carbon:
Leucine
Isoleucine
Alloisoleucine
Norleucine
Pseudoleucine
Cycloleucine
2-Methyl-norvaline
Pipecolic Acid
2-Amino-2-ethylbutanoic Acid
3-Amino-2-ethylbutanoic Acid*
2-Amino-2,3-dimethylbutanoic Acid
3-Amino-2,3-dimethylbutanoic Acid*
4-Amino-3,3-dimethylbutanoic Acid*
3-Amino-3-methylpentanoic Acid*
4-Amino-2-methylpentanoic Acid*
4-Amino-3-methylpentanoic Acid*
4-Amino-4-methylpentaoic Acid*
3-methylamine-pentanoic Acid*
4-Aminohexanoic Acid*

7 Carbon:
2-Amino-2,3,3-trimethylbutanoic Acid
2-Amino-2-ethyl-3-methylbutanoic Acid
2-Amino-2-ethylpentanoic Acid
2-Amino-3-ethylpentanoic Acid
2-Amino-2,3-dimethylpentanoic Acid
2-Amino-2,4-dimethylpentanoic Acid
2-Amino-3,3-dimethylpentanoic Acid
2-Amino-3,4-dimethylpentanoic Acid
2-Amino-4,4-dimethylpentanoic Acid
Allo-2-amino-2,3-dimethylpentanoic Acid*
Allo-2-amino-3,4-dimethylpentanoic Acid
2-Amino-2-methylhexanoic Acid
2-Amino-3-methylhexanoic Acid
2-Amino-4-methylhexanoic Acid
2-Amino-5-methylhexanoic Acid
Allo-2-amino-3-methylhexanoic Acid*
Allo-2-amino-4-methylhexanoic Acid*
2-Aminoheptanoic Acid

8 Carbon:
An amino alkanoic acid*

9 Carbon:
Phenylalanine
Tyrosine


DIAMINO ACIDS IDENTIFIED IN THE CM2 MURCHISON METEORITE
Uwe J. Meierhenrich et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 101, (2004)

D- and L-2,3-diaminopropanoic acid
D- and L-2,4-diaminobutanoic acid
3,3'-diaminoisobutanoic acid
2,3-diaminobutanoic acid
4,4'-diaminoisopentanoic acid

In addition, over fifty water-soluble monocarboxylic acids have been identified in Murchison (Huang et al., 2005).


Note: An asterisk (*) after the name of an amino acid indicates a tentative identification.

Portions excerpted from Shock E.L., and Schulte M.D., Summary and implications of reported amino acid concentrations in the Murchison Meteorite. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 1990, vol. 54, pp. 3159-3173.