Primordial Carbonylated Iron-Sulfur Compounds and the Synthesis of Pyruvate

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Science  25 Aug 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5483, pp. 1337-1340
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5483.1337

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Experiments exploring the potential catalytic role of iron sulfide at 250°C and elevated pressures (50, 100, and 200 megapascals) revealed a facile, pressure-enhanced synthesis of organometallic phases formed through the reaction of alkyl thiols and carbon monoxide with iron sulfide. A suite of organometallic compounds were characterized with ultraviolet-visible and Raman spectroscopy. The natural synthesis of such compounds is anticipated in present-day and ancient environments wherever reduced hydrothermal fluids pass through iron sulfide–containing crust. Here, pyruvic acid was synthesized in the presence of such organometallic phases. These compounds could have provided the prebiotic Earth with critical biochemical functionality.

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