Decomposition of amino acids in water with application to in-situ measurements of Enceladus, Europa and other hydrothermally active icy ocean worlds

Ngoc Truong, Adam A. Monroe, Christopher R. Glein, Ariel Anbar, Jonathan I. Lunine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

To test the potential of using amino acid abundances as a biosignature at icy ocean worlds, we investigate whether primordial amino acids (accreted or formed by early aqueous processes) could persist until the present time. By examining the decomposition kinetics of amino acids in aqueous solution based on existing laboratory rate data, we find that all fourteen proteinogenic amino acids considered in this study decompose to a very large extent (>99.9%) over relatively short lengths of time in hydrothermally active oceans. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, we suggest that if amino acids are detected at Enceladus, Europa, or other hydrothermally active ocean worlds above a concentration of 1 nM, they should have been formed recently and not be relicts of early processes. In particular, the detection of aspartic acid (Asp) and threonine (Thr) would strongly suggest active production within the ocean, as these amino acids cannot persist beyond 1 billion years even at the freezing point temperature of 273 K. Identifying amino acids from the oceans of icy worlds can provide key insight into their history of organic chemistry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-147
Number of pages8
JournalIcarus
Volume329
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

Fingerprint

Enceladus
Europa
in situ measurement
amino acids
oceans
amino acid
decomposition
ocean
water
organic chemistry
aspartic acid
world
melting points
freezing
aqueous solution
histories
aqueous solutions
kinetics
history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Decomposition of amino acids in water with application to in-situ measurements of Enceladus, Europa and other hydrothermally active icy ocean worlds. / Truong, Ngoc; Monroe, Adam A.; Glein, Christopher R.; Anbar, Ariel; Lunine, Jonathan I.

In: Icarus, Vol. 329, 01.09.2019, p. 140-147.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Truong, Ngoc ; Monroe, Adam A. ; Glein, Christopher R. ; Anbar, Ariel ; Lunine, Jonathan I. / Decomposition of amino acids in water with application to in-situ measurements of Enceladus, Europa and other hydrothermally active icy ocean worlds. In: Icarus. 2019 ; Vol. 329. pp. 140-147.
@article{318b456f2d07489f8bc528794bcc688f,
title = "Decomposition of amino acids in water with application to in-situ measurements of Enceladus, Europa and other hydrothermally active icy ocean worlds",
abstract = "To test the potential of using amino acid abundances as a biosignature at icy ocean worlds, we investigate whether primordial amino acids (accreted or formed by early aqueous processes) could persist until the present time. By examining the decomposition kinetics of amino acids in aqueous solution based on existing laboratory rate data, we find that all fourteen proteinogenic amino acids considered in this study decompose to a very large extent (>99.9{\%}) over relatively short lengths of time in hydrothermally active oceans. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, we suggest that if amino acids are detected at Enceladus, Europa, or other hydrothermally active ocean worlds above a concentration of 1 nM, they should have been formed recently and not be relicts of early processes. In particular, the detection of aspartic acid (Asp) and threonine (Thr) would strongly suggest active production within the ocean, as these amino acids cannot persist beyond 1 billion years even at the freezing point temperature of 273 K. Identifying amino acids from the oceans of icy worlds can provide key insight into their history of organic chemistry.",
author = "Ngoc Truong and Monroe, {Adam A.} and Glein, {Christopher R.} and Ariel Anbar and Lunine, {Jonathan I.}",
year = "2019",
month = "9",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.icarus.2019.04.009",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "329",
pages = "140--147",
journal = "Icarus",
issn = "0019-1035",
publisher = "Academic Press Inc.",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Decomposition of amino acids in water with application to in-situ measurements of Enceladus, Europa and other hydrothermally active icy ocean worlds

AU - Truong, Ngoc

AU - Monroe, Adam A.

AU - Glein, Christopher R.

AU - Anbar, Ariel

AU - Lunine, Jonathan I.

PY - 2019/9/1

Y1 - 2019/9/1

N2 - To test the potential of using amino acid abundances as a biosignature at icy ocean worlds, we investigate whether primordial amino acids (accreted or formed by early aqueous processes) could persist until the present time. By examining the decomposition kinetics of amino acids in aqueous solution based on existing laboratory rate data, we find that all fourteen proteinogenic amino acids considered in this study decompose to a very large extent (>99.9%) over relatively short lengths of time in hydrothermally active oceans. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, we suggest that if amino acids are detected at Enceladus, Europa, or other hydrothermally active ocean worlds above a concentration of 1 nM, they should have been formed recently and not be relicts of early processes. In particular, the detection of aspartic acid (Asp) and threonine (Thr) would strongly suggest active production within the ocean, as these amino acids cannot persist beyond 1 billion years even at the freezing point temperature of 273 K. Identifying amino acids from the oceans of icy worlds can provide key insight into their history of organic chemistry.

AB - To test the potential of using amino acid abundances as a biosignature at icy ocean worlds, we investigate whether primordial amino acids (accreted or formed by early aqueous processes) could persist until the present time. By examining the decomposition kinetics of amino acids in aqueous solution based on existing laboratory rate data, we find that all fourteen proteinogenic amino acids considered in this study decompose to a very large extent (>99.9%) over relatively short lengths of time in hydrothermally active oceans. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, we suggest that if amino acids are detected at Enceladus, Europa, or other hydrothermally active ocean worlds above a concentration of 1 nM, they should have been formed recently and not be relicts of early processes. In particular, the detection of aspartic acid (Asp) and threonine (Thr) would strongly suggest active production within the ocean, as these amino acids cannot persist beyond 1 billion years even at the freezing point temperature of 273 K. Identifying amino acids from the oceans of icy worlds can provide key insight into their history of organic chemistry.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85064151784&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85064151784&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.icarus.2019.04.009

DO - 10.1016/j.icarus.2019.04.009

M3 - Article

VL - 329

SP - 140

EP - 147

JO - Icarus

JF - Icarus

SN - 0019-1035

ER -