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Keywords:

  • Prebiotic chemistry;
  • Formamide chemistry;
  • Nucleic bases;
  • Acyclonucleosides;
  • Phosphorylation;
  • Informational polymers

Abstract

Formamide (HCONH2) provides a chemical frame potentially affording all the monomeric components necessary for the formation of nucleic polymers. In the presence of the appropriate catalysts, and by moderate heating, formamide yields a complete set of nucleic bases, acyclonucleosides, and favors both phosphorylations and transphosphorylations. Physico-chemical conditions exist in which formamide favors the stability of the phosphoester bonds in nucleic polymers more than that of the same bonds in monomers. This property establishes ‘thermodynamic niches’ in which the polymeric forms are favored. The hypothesis that these specific attributes of formamide allowed the onset of prebiotic chemical equilibria capable of Darwinian evolution is discussed.