2020 Volume 129 Issue 6 Pages 837-851
Chemical evolution, starting from simple compounds that eventually transform into complex mixtures, is a theme long recognized to be of fundamental importance to origins of life research. Ionizing radiation on simple and small molecules, such as hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and acetonitorile (CH3CN), is proposed to be one of the geochemically plausible mechanism driving multiple reactions yielding prebiotic precursors essential to emergence of life on early-Earth. Water radiolysis forming radicals, proton, and solvated electron also assists developing a reaction network in a one-pot system. Radiolytic mechanisms on an experimental basis are reviewed. Particularly, proposed synthetic strategies and mechanisms of amino acids and nucleotides are presented.