Matthew Pasek – September 16, 2016

Meteorite delivery of bioessential elements

Matthew Pasek, University of South Florida
PSB 160/161, 4:30-6:00pm

Abstract: Extraterrestrial material has been invoked as a source of prebiotic material to the early earth, based on the presence of amino acids, sugars, and other biochemical reagents within meteorites. However, delivery of extraterrestrial material must overcome problems with the immense energy accompanying traveling through the atmosphere and impacting the ground. Here I argue that elemental delivery, instead of molecular delivery, may have been more important on the early earth, focusing on delivery of the element phosphorus. Phosphorus, a key biochemical nutrient, is delivered as the reactive mineral schreibersite, and overcomes several difficulties with prebiotic phosphorus chemistry by increasing phosphorus solubility and reactivity towards organic compounds.