Primitive Earth Synthesis of Nicotinic Acid Derivatives

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Science  12 Mar 1971:
Vol. 171, Issue 3975, pp. 1026-1027
DOI: 10.1126/science.171.3975.1026


Nicotinonitrile, 2-cyanopyridine, and 4-cyanopyridine can be synthesized under primitive earth conditions by the action of electric discharges on ethylene and ammonia. The electric discharge first synthesizes pyridine and hydrogen cyanide, which react in the discharge to form the cyanopyridines. Nicotinonitrile would have hydrolyzed in the primitive ocean to nicotinamide and nicotinic acid.