Back to Volume
Paper: Copper-Adenine Complex Catalyst for O2 Production from
Volume: 213, Bioastronomy '99: A New Era in Bioastronomy
Page: 319
Authors: Vergne, Jacques; Bruston, F.; Calvayrac, R.; Grajcar, L.; Baron, M.-H.; Maurel, M.-C.
Abstract: The advent of oxygen-evolving photosynthesis is one of the central event in the development of life on earth. The early atmosphere has been midly reducing or neutral in overall redox balance and water photolysis by UV light can produce hydrogen peroxide. Before oxidation of water, intermediate stages are proposed in which H_2^O_2 was oxidized. The oxidation of H_2^O_2 to oxygen can be carried out by a modestly oxidizing species in which a metal-catalase like enzyme could extract electrons from H_2^O_2 producing the first oxygen-evolving complex. After what, modern photosynthesis with chlorophyll, to help transform H_2^O in O_2 was ready to come to light. In preliminary UV studies we were able to show that [Cu(adenine)2] system, containing copper coordinated to nitrogen activates H_2^O_2 disappearance. This was confirmed with the help of Raman and polarographic studies. Raman spectroscopy shows the formation of [Cu(adenine)2] complex in solution, quantifies H_2^O_2 consumption, polarography quantifies O_2 production. In both cases CuCl_2 addition entails H_2^O_2 disappearance. Without adenine, Cu_2^+ has only a weak catalytic effect. The molar activity of the [Cu(adenine)2] complex is much larger and concentration dependent. We emphasize that Cu(adenine)2 may have mimicked enzyme properties in the first stage of life evolution, in order to split H_2^O_2 into O_2 and H_2^O. Moreover, diluted copper and adenine, in small ephemeral prebiotic ponds , could have preserved biologically active entities from H_2^O_2 damage via dual properties: catalyzing H_2^O_2 disproportionation and also directly acting as a reductant complex. Finally, the present Mars surface is considered to be both reactive and embedded with oxydants. As it has been shown that the depth of diffusion for H_2^O_2 is less than 3 meters, it is important to study all the ways of H_2^O_2 consumption.
Back to Volume