A detailed review that focuses on computational works dealing with the formation of glycine in the interstellar medium, its transportation to the early Earth, and its conversion into peptides under prebiotic conditions.
Glycine (Gly), NH2CH2COOH, is the simplest amino acid. Although it has not been directly detected in the interstellar gas-phase medium, it has been identified in comets and meteorites, and its synthesis in these environments has been simulated in terrestrial laboratory experiments. Likewise, condensation of Gly to form peptides in scenarios resembling those present in a primordial Earth has been demonstrated experimentally. Thus, Gly is a paradigmatic system for biomolecular building blocks to investigate how they can be synthesized in astrophysical environments, transported and delivered by fragments of asteroids (meteorites, once they land on Earth) and comets (interplanetary dust particles that land on Earth) to the primitive Earth, and there react to form biopolymers as a step towards the emergence of life. Quantum chemical investigations addressing these Gly-related events have been performed, providing fundamental atomic-scale information and quantitative energetic data. However, they are spread in the literature and difficult to harmonize in a consistent way due to different computational chemistry methodologies and model systems. This review aims to collect the work done so far to characterize, at a quantum mechanical level, the chemical life of Gly, i.e., from its synthesis in the interstellar medium up to its polymerization on Earth.
This work has been published in International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
Link to the article as open access in Int. J. Mol. Sci.: https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/23/8/4252