The distribution and abundances of pyridine carboxylic acids (including nicotinic acid) in eight CM2 carbonaceous chondrites (ALH 85013, DOM 03183, DOM 08003, EET 96016, LAP 02333, LAP 02336, LEW 85311, and WIS 91600) were investigated by liquid chromatography coupled to UV detection and high resolution Orbitrap mass spectrometry. We find that pyridine monocarboxylic acids are prevalent in CM2-type chondrites and their abundance negatively correlates with the degree of pre-terrestrial aqueous alteration that the meteorite parent body experienced. We also report the first detection of pyridine dicarboxylic acids in carbonaceous chondrites. Additionally, we carried out laboratory studies of proton-irradiated pyridine in carbon dioxide-rich ices (a 1:1 mixture) to serve as a model of the interstellar ice chemistry that may have led to the synthesis of pyridine carboxylic acids. Analysis of the irradiated ice residue shows that a comparable suite of pyridine mono- and dicarboxylic acids was produced, although aqueous alteration may still play a role in the synthesis (and ultimate yield) of these compounds in carbonaceous meteorites. Nicotinic acid is a precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, a likely ancient molecule used in cellular metabolism in all of life, and its common occurrence in CM2 chondrites may indicate that meteorites may have been a source of molecules for the emergence of more complex coenzymes on the early Earth.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology