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Talk: Sunlight driven processes building chemical complexity for life

Speaker: Veronica Vaida, University of Colorado Boulder (Host: Frank Jensen)

06.09.2019 | Marianne Sommer

Dato tor 26 sep
Tid 10:15 11:00
Sted Aud I (1514-213), Institut for Kemi, Langelandsgade 140, 8000 Aarhus C


Sunlight driven processes building chemical complexity for life

Conversion of energy or energy transduction to form high-energy chemical compounds able to
drive metabolic cycles is critical in the synthesis and regulation of the chemical components required
for an organism to survive. This presentation discusses results of our laboratory experiments
modeling the use of sunlight to generate abiotically the chemical complexity needed for the synthesis
of biopolymers necessary for life. Specifically, the reactivity of high-energy molecules that
are precursors to metabolism as it has evolved in life on Earth will be discussed. The photochemical
synthesis lipids from oxoacids under conditions representative of early Earth will be presented.

The photochemistry of pyruvic acid and related oxocarboxylic acids under a variety of terrestrial
conditions was investigated observing that product yields vary considerably with reaction
environment. Under some conditions representative of early Earth, in the presence of water, a new
class of lipids is generated who spontaneously self-assemble into complex structures. The role of
water and water-air interfaces in this chemistry will be explored.

Veronica Vaida
University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder CO 80309-0215

Institut for Kemi, Medarbejdere, Offentligheden / Pressen