Water-Air Interfaces as Environments to Address the Water Paradox in Prebiotic Chemistry: A Physical Chemistry Perspective
The asymmetric water-air interface provides a dynamic aqueous environment with properties that are often very different than bulk aqueous or gaseous phases and promotes reactions that are thermodynamically, kinetically, or otherwise unfavorable in bulk water. Prebiotic chemistry faces a key challenge: water is necessary for life yet reduces the efficiency of many biomolecular synthesis reactions. This perspective considers water-air interfaces as auspicious reaction environments for abiotic synthesis. We discuss recent evidence that (1) water-air interfaces promote condensation reactions including peptide synthesis, phosphorylation, and oligomerization; (2) photochemistry at water-air interfaces may have been a significant source of prebiotic molecular complexity, given the lack of oxygen and increased availability of near-ultraviolet radiation on early Earth; and (3) water-air interfaces can promote spontaneous reduction and oxidation reactions, potentially providing protometabolic pathways. Life likely began within a relatively short time frame, and water-air interfaces offer promising environments for simultaneous and efficient biomolecule production.
American Chemical Society
Deal, A. M., Rapf, R. J., & Vaida, V. (2021). Water-air interfaces as environments to address the water paradox in prebiotic chemistry: A physical chemistry perspective. Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 125(23), 4929-4942. http://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpca.1c02864
Journal of Physical Chemistry A