Cerium Phosphate-Assisted Formation of Nucleosides and Nucleotides from Formamide in a One-Pot (Photo)catalytic Reaction

01 December 2023, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


The abiotic formation of nucleotides from small, simple molecules is of large interest in the context of elucidating the origin of life scenario. In what follows it is shown that nucleosides and nucleotides can be formed from formamide in a one-pot reaction utilizing the mineral cerium phosphate (CePO4) as both a photocatalyst, a catalyst and a reactant that supplies the necessary phosphate groups. While the most abundant RNA / DNA building blocks were thymidine and thymidine monophosphate, considerable yield of other building blocks such as cytidine, cytidine monophosphate and adenosine cyclic monophosphate were found. Comparing the yield of nucleosides and nucleotides under light conditions to that in the dark suggests that in the presence of cerium phosphate, light promotes the formation of nucleobases, whereas the formation of nucleotides from nucleosides take place even in the absence of light. The scenario described herein is considerably simpler than other scenarios involving several steps and several reactants. Therefore, by virtue of the principle of Occam’s razor, should be of large interest for the community.


Origin of Life
Cerium Phosphate (CePO4)
One-pot reaction

Supplementary materials

Supplementary material for "Cerium Phosphate-Assisted Formation of Nucleosides and Nucleotides from Formamide in a One-Pot (Photo)catalytic Reaction"
Characterization data for CePO4, Product identification by HR-MS and LCMS, data of adsorption measurements, data on turbidity change during reaction.


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