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Mineral surface chemistry control for origin of prebiotic peptides.

Erastova, Valentina and Degiacomi, Matteo T. and Fraser, Donald and Greenwell, H. Chris (2017) 'Mineral surface chemistry control for origin of prebiotic peptides.', Nature communications., 8 . p. 2033.


Some seventy years ago, John Desmond Bernal proposed a role for clays in the origin of life. While much research has since been dedicated to the study of silicate clays, layered double hydroxides, believed to be common on the early Earth, have received only limited attention. Here we examine the role that layered hydroxides could have played in prebiotic peptide formation. We demonstrate how these minerals can concentrate, align and act as adsorption templates for amino acids, and during wetting—drying cycles, promote peptide bond formation. This enables us to propose a testable mechanism for the growth of peptides at layered double hydroxide interfaces in an early Earth environment. Our results provide insights into the potential role of mineral surfaces in mimicking aspects of biochemical reaction pathways.

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Publisher statement:Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Date accepted:15 November 2017
Date deposited:11 December 2017
Date of first online publication:11 December 2017
Date first made open access:11 December 2017

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